Ducks’ Corey Perry has been relentless in the playoffs
Gifted goal-scorers can feel for a slumping brother at times. Except, of course, when the slumping scorer is the playoff opposition.
All those questions about Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning were being tossed around in the first round of the playoffs in the East. What was wrong and, well, why wasn’t he able to score?
Ducks right wing Corey Perry, who is leading the NHL’s scoring race in the playoffs, understood the scrutiny and the doubt.
Perry, the NHL’s most valuable player in 2011, heard the same questions when he struggled in the first round against the Detroit Red Wings in 2013. He didn’t score in the seven-game series — although he had two assists — and didn’t have a point in Game 7, which the Ducks lost.
“If I remember right, I was getting chances. They weren’t going in,” Perry said Monday morning in Anaheim, shortly before the Ducks departed for Calgary.
“Everybody is talking about Stamkos right now and he gets that one bounce and then all of a sudden he’s moving.
“It’s all about confidence. You look at goal-scorers around the league when they’re in slumps. They try to shoot the puck a little bit more. Try to do different things. It just takes that one bounce before they all start going in.”
Said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau: “He was snakebit. I’m sure that was a disappointing series because he got no goals [against Detroit]. If you know Corey, that probably really bothered him because he wants to be known as a clutch guy.”
The magic touch has belonged to Perry in these playoffs. He started fast — four points in Game 1 against Winnipeg — and has been unrelenting since, leading the league with 13 points.
Linemate and close friend, captain Ryan Getzlaf, is tied for second at 10 points with three other players — Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and defenseman Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks. Stamkos, by the way, had one goal in Tampa Bay’s first nine playoff games.
Perry has been lethal in series openers. He had four points in Game 1 against the Calgary Flames, as did Getzlaf. Mr. Game 1 could become Mr. Conn Smythe, given to the playoff MVP, if this pace keeps up. It shouldn’t be surprising considering how Perry started the regular season. He was having a Hart Trophy-type season — a league-leading 10 goals in October — when it got derailed by a case of the mumps and, later, a knee injury.
“I’ve been through his ups and downs,” Getzlaf said. “I think this year, coming in off last year and the year before … he really wanted to set a tone that he is the player that he is. He came in, he seems kind of on a mission to prove something in this playoff and it’s fun to be a part of. It’s fun to watch.”
Getzlaf sensed that Perry has been more committed to a complete game at both ends of the rink.
“Not that he cheats all the time but at times, periods, last year I thought that he was cheating on the wrong side of the puck and this year he’s been everything we’ve asked of him and everything that he is,” Getzlaf said.
Perry’s intensity skyrocketed in Winnipeg when the crowd chided him. Then he received a pregame jab via Flames forward David Wolf’s stick during warmups at center ice. Wolf, who is 6 feet 3, made his playoff debut in Game 2.
Boudreau was not pleased by Wolf’s antics.
“I’m gonna ask about that because that’s something the league really frowns upon,” he said. “We were warned in the last series of just skating across the line or straddling the line…. When I saw that, I’m wondering if the league is going to say something about it.”
Then again, if Perry wasn’t dialed in already, that surely helped the process. Memo to the rookie: Don’t antagonize the feisty goal-scorer.
Perry’s edge and burning desire have not been muted despite one Stanley Cup championship, two Olympic gold medals for Team Canada and one MVP award.
“I think that’s why he’s been so successful in life,” Boudreau said. “When you’re not expected to make the Team Canada in World Juniors, you’re not expected to be on Team Canada, you just bully your way into these spots. You’re not expected to win the Hart Trophy and you do these things. It shows your competitiveness and your combativeness.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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