Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf passed tests on his left ankle Sunday night and Monday morning before officials of the Canadian Olympic team were satisfied his high-ankle sprain had fully healed and kept him on the Vancouver roster.
“It’s excellent,” Getzlaf said Monday. “I’m the happiest guy here, that’s for sure.”
Getzlaf was injured last Monday and didn’t play again until Sunday at Edmonton, where he collected two goals and two assists. That wasn’t enough, though, and he had to demonstrate his fitness again before Canada submitted its roster. In practice at Canada Hockey Place he centered for Ducks linemate Corey Perry and Carolina’s Eric Staal. Canada opens play Tuesday, against Norway.
In the moments that followed the injury, Getzlaf wasn’t sure he’d make it here.
“When it first happened it was one of the scariest things I’ve been through. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve done,” he said, crediting the Ducks’ training staff for his speedy recovery. “The last week hasn’t been easy, and I’m so relieved just to get on the ice with the guys again.”
He had to weigh his desire to play against the risk of re-injuring his ankle and leaving the Ducks at a disadvantage after the Games.
“I definitely had to put those guys in the [locker] room ahead of my own priorities, as well as my organization,” he said. “My team has invested a lot of money and time into me, and I’ve got to make sure I’m ready for the whole season, not just these two weeks. We were comfortable with that. We went through it with the training staff over and over again and it worked out the way we wanted it.”
Selanne says these are his last Olympics ... really
Ducks winger Teemu Selanne, who will appear in his fifth Olympics when Finland faces Belarus on Wednesday, said Monday that these will be his final Games.
Of course he said that four years ago in Turin, after Finland won the silver medal and he led all scorers with six goals and 11 points.
Although he’s nearly 40 he still feels like a kid when he plays with the Finns he grew up with, including Ducks teammate Saku Koivu.
“Absolutely. Especially for the Olympics. They’re every four years so they’re something really special,” he said after Finland practiced Monday. “And especially here in Vancouver. This is unbelievable as a hockey player, especially, when everybody just talks about hockey, hockey, hockey. That’s what makes it really special -- the city and the fans. It’s unbelievable.”
Finland doesn’t have the depth Canada boasts or the explosive offense that Russia will mount. Sweden has the dynamic Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, and the U.S. might have an advantage with its young lineup.
Finland comes in as a medal contender because of its exceptionally strong goaltending. The Finns can choose among Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff and Tampa Bay’s Antero Niittymaki, who was voted the best goaltender and most valuable player in the Turin Games.
“I don’t like our chances if we play best of seven against top teams, but it’s one game and you never know what’s going to happen,” Selanne said. “Four days, 10 days, whoever is going to be hot is going to have a good chance.”
Selanne said his broken jaw is “not bad, not what it could be but good enough to play and I’m happy about that. Too bad I have to wear the mask, but that’s the smallest problem right now.”
Asked whether this will be his Olympic finale, Selanne was emphatic. “Absolutely,” he said. “As a hockey player.”
Maybe he’ll come back as a journalist . . . nah.
The U.S. opens Tuesday against Switzerland, whose upset hopes rest heavily on Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. Ducks defenseman Ryan Whitney and winger Bobby Ryan said they’d share their knowledge of Hiller’s habits with their U.S. teammates.
“He’s a guy who can steal a game even if you get 50 shots on him,” Whitney said. “There’s ways to beat him. Hopefully Bobby and I can spread the word.”
Ryan said that in practice against Hiller, “I like to think I have the upper hand. He and I try to have battles out there. We go back and forth quite a bit. I know his weaknesses, but he knows that I know them.”
Hiller was Switzerland’s fourth goalie in 2006 and didn’t play in Turin. He will start this time. “I think goalies are going to be an important factor,” he said. “We’re not playing in a best-of-seven series. Each team has a goalie who can steal games.”
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who will alternate with Tim Thomas as the backup to Team USA starter Ryan Miller, said he understands his role here.
“He’s earned it,” Quick said of Miller. “He’s been strong all year long. Whatever way I can help the team to win, I’ll do that.”
Kings captain Dustin Brown, one of Team USA’s alternate captains, said that although the team is young, players’ extensive experience in international play will help. He said he has learned the importance of good goaltending and of peaking at the right time.
“You don’t have to play great every game. You have to play great in the right games,” he said. “You can’t fall behind and lose games early. It’s a matter of ramping up and playing your best hockey in the right games.”