Ryan Getzlaf was in a good mood after the Ducks practiced Saturday at the Pepsi Center, so it seemed a good time to ask him about his scoring slowdown and why he has gotten only one shot on goal in each of the last three games.
"Is that it?" he said in mock surprise.
Yup, that's it.
"I know," Getzlaf said, switching to his serious, team-captain voice. "We had two tough games where I wasn't handling the puck very well and we had some discussions about the defensive play and playing better in our zone. I think that's contributed a little bit to it, and not getting those chances when you're trying to focus a little too much on playing underneath and not in the rush as much."
If Getzlaf is sacrificing offense to solidify the team's defense, that's fine for now. Through Friday's games the Ducks had the NHL's lowest team goals-against average (1.81) and ranked in the top 10 in penalty killing (85.4%). Getzlaf has won 57.9% of his faceoffs while playing in all situations and averaging 20 minutes 22 seconds of ice time per game.
But after going four games without a point he knows it's time for him to step up his production.
"I'm aware of the fact that I have to contribute offensively as much as I can. That's something I definitely pay attention to and I try to get pucks to the net now," said Getzlaf, who had a career-best 31 goals last season while averaging 2.65 shots per game. "I've been here long enough. I know what I need to do."
That doesn't prevent Coach Bruce Boudreau from urging him to shoot more instead of thinking pass-first, tempting though it is for Getzlaf to want to feed linemate Corey Perry, the NHL's goals leader through Friday's games with 10.
"I said, 'You're getting back into that [mind-set of] making a great play,' which as a centerman probably gives you more pleasure than scoring goals," Boudreau said. "But at the same time, when you've got a great shot, you might as well use it."
Getzlaf said he will be better able to assess where the Ducks stand as a team after they face Colorado on Sunday to end a four-game trip. They've gone 2-1, scoring and allowing three goals, and they're more accustomed to playing low-scoring games.
"That's kind of the idea. We wanted to get to that point," Getzlaf said. "In the playoffs we have to win those one-goal games and we have to be able, when you have a lead, to lock it down in the third period. It's not quite as fun but it's the way it is."
DUCKS AT COLORADO
When: 5 p.m.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.
Etc.: Defenseman Mark Fistric (lower back) is expected to be sidelined about two weeks, according to Boudreau. Fistric's replacement, Josh Manson, did well in his NHL debut Friday at Dallas. Boudreau said he hadn't decided whether to keep the same lineup as he used in Friday's 2-1 overtime victory over the Stars, in which Dany Heatley was scratched.