OTTAWA - Bobby Ryan endured pain and discomfort as he tried to help his new team find success.
In the end, the Ottawa Senators winger's injury became too much to bear.
Ryan's season came to an end March 27 as he underwent surgery for a sports hernia that had been bothering him since November.
"For me, individually, I felt like being here, new team, new situation and we were up and down as a team and weren't where we needed to be as a team (so) I wanted to play," Ryan said. "I wanted to compete with the guys."
Ryan had the support of the organization and his teammates to keep playing. Trainers did their best to help Ryan deal with the daily pain, but things finally came to a head.
Ryan had hoped to wait until the end of the season to undergo surgery, but a collision with the boards in Dallas on March 22 forced him to shut things down.
"We hoped that the Olympic break would really calm it down and it was quite the opposite that happened," Ryan said. "I came back and it was beyond what we thought I could play through, but to me it meant more to play at that point. It was whatever it was going to take.
"When I fell into the wall in Dallas that was kind of the end of it."
Ryan finished the season with 23 goals and 48 points since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks last July. Coming into training camp Ryan was eager to play a significant role with the Senators, and looking back the 27-year-old says he's not sure how to assess his first season in Ottawa.
"I don't know if happy is the right word," Ryan said. "I think I'm indifferent towards it right now. Even though I've been doing absolutely nothing there hasn't been a whole lot of time to reflect on it. There were certainly games that I'm going to remember and if we end up missing (the playoffs) by four, five, six points there's going to be games that a lot of us remember."
As a whole Ryan said he can't help but feel a little frustrated by how the injury affected his performance.
Ryan will be heading into the final year of his contract next season, and while he hasn't given much thought to his status he said he would be happy to stay in Ottawa.
"I love it here, we (Ryan and fiancee Danielle Rhodes) love it here more importantly," said Ryan. "It's been a great change for us. When the time comes if that's the route (general manager Bryan Murray) wants to go to sit down and have conversations we'll certainly do that."
Ryan went as far as saying that he could even see himself having a long future with Ottawa.
Recovery from the surgery isn't expected to hamper Ryan's off-season training. For now he is extremely limited, but will be able to start light training in the next couple of weeks and then should be fine to resume his regular training regimen over the summer.
While the rest of his teammates aren't ready to call it a season just yet, the Senators slim hopes of making the playoffs suffered dramatically with Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders.
With six games remaining the Senators are focused on finishing strong starting with Friday's game against the Montreal Canadiens.
The last time the two teams met the Senators suffered a crushing overtime loss in was the first of what turned out to be a five-game losing streak, which many point to as the turning point of Ottawa's season.
"That was a tough game," said forward Clarke MacArthur. "We let that one get away. That's just learning to play with confidence when you have the lead and knowing how to play when you have the lead."
Games against Montreal are usually competitive, and on Friday the Senators will be looking for redemption.
"You always want to play hard against them, they're a competitive team," added MacArthur. "We won't have any trouble getting up for that one."
As a group the Senators are at a loss to explain how things slipped away, but realize consistency was likely the biggest problem.
"The potential that we have on our team and in our lineup is there," said defenceman Marc Methot. "We have the skill set we just couldn't seem to put it together and ultimately I think that's what killed us."
Senators coach Paul MacLean said the team spent too much time in their own zone, allowed too many turnovers and took too many penalties
The Senators are the second-most penalized team in the league with 404 infractions. The Flyers lead the league with 405.
When asked how to change the mindset MacLean made it sound simple.
"Practice is the first solution we have and the next solution I guess is different players."
For now MacLean says he's focused on the next six games and says the team has to be ready for its next opponent and can't speculate on what changes might be made for next season.
"We could say we can change everything, but the reality is you can't just blow everything up," said MacLean. "We've done a lot of good work here in the last three years. It doesn't look like it right now, but we've had a lot of growth in a lot of our players and we need to recognize that."
Notes: D Erik Karlsson was given a maintenance day Thursday. C Jason Spezza did not skate and will be a game day decision Friday. D Jared Cowen and LW Colin Greening are both expected to miss Friday and Saturday's game. G Craig Anderson will get the start against Montreal.
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