Game Getz much faster

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

The list of acquaintances needing tickets was long.

Meaning one big bill for Ryan Getzlaf to foot in his return to the Saddledome.

"I'm playing for free (today) but it's worth it," Getzlaf quipped.

The former Calgary Hitmen star will finally know what it's like to be a visitor tonight when his Anaheim Mighty Ducks face the Flames.

At least he'll have his own cheering section.

"You name it. I've got family, friends, girlfriend, billets. There are probably about 35-40 people," he said after yesterday's practice. "It's an exciting time. This is something I've been looking forward to for a while."

The junior star who twice led the Hitmen in scoring and helped them reach the Eastern Conference final last season, has made a solid transition to the pro game.

Though his eight goals and 13 points in 29 NHL games doesn't put him with the Alexander Ovechkins and Sidney Crosbys, Getzlaf has had a solid start to his pro career, said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.

"The one thing he's got to continually push for is to keep his feet moving," Carlyle said. "I'm sure he played 30 minutes or 25 minutes plus here in Calgary and had to play more of a pace game, not an energy game.

"He's getting the 10-12 minutes and he gets an opportunity on the powerplay to provide some offence.

"He's a guy we think at some point should provide fairly consistent offence."

He's certainly learned the ups and downs of the pro game. After making the Ducks out of training camp, he missed a handful of games, including the first encounter against the Flames, due to a shoulder injury.

Getzlaf also spent seven weeks before being recalled Jan. 7.

The goal was to develop more consistency, especially playing full-out every shift.

"Even when I was in (AHL) Portland, we were playing a lot of minutes," he said. "Here, you've got to take advantage of the minutes when you get them."


Videos

Photos