Stars need to produce

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

You can crunch numbers until you're blue in the face. Compare the powerplays, the goaltending, debate the importance of post-season experience. But the simple truth is the Calgary Hitmen's playoff aspirations can be boiled down to two names: Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd.

If the club's two world junior stars produce, the Hitmen could survive the opening round for the first time in four years.

If not, summer vacation begins in a week or less.

Getzlaf, who scored a team-high five goals in last spring's seven-game loss to Red Deer, said he knows the spotlight is squarely on him and his linemates.

"This is when you find out which guys want to show up in the big games," Getzlaf said. "At playoff time, every game is big and you have to win them all."

This is Getzlaf's fourth and final crack at playoff success.

With all he's accomplished, including world junior gold, a lengthy post-season run is the only thing missing from his resume.

"It's tough to deal with," the Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect said.

"Any time you're on a pretty good team that is successful during the season but doesn't go far in the playoffs, you aren't really doing anything.

"That's our goal this year, to go as far as we can go."

Ladd, who led the Hitmen with seven points in the '04 playoffs, said he relishes the responsibility of having his teammates count on him.

"I think the pressure is on us to step up and make sure we lead in the right way," Ladd said.

"That means doing our job and putting some pucks in the net."

Getzlaf managed just a pair of assists in six games against Lethbridge this season but Ladd said it's only a matter of time before his linemate explodes.

"He'll get his chances and when he gets the puck all alone, it usually ends up in the back of the net," said Ladd, who was tops on the team with three goals against the 'Canes.

Getzlaf said he couldn't name the players on Lethbridge's top checking line -- which consists of Mark Olafson, Rob Klinkhammer and Ken Petkau -- but knows he'll get well-acquainted with them over the next 10 days.

"I can't remember who it is but they've got that one line that's always out against us," Getzlaf said. "I'm sure we'll see a lot of them and we'll be sick of them by the end of it.

"But the points will be there as long as I show up and play."

Both players saw their season totals diminish from a year ago. Getzlaf, who missed a month with a concussion, was down 21 points while Ladd's 45 points were 30 less than in '03-04.

But those numbers would be erased from everyone's memory if they catch fire against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

"This is when it counts," Ladd said. "This is where players make their name."


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