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Positions of Power

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


"I think he’s looking for guys who are willing to shoot from back there," Ryan said. "I don’t think there is any question that I look to do that. I’ll try to step in.  It’s nice to get out there with those players in that situation. It gives you a chance for success. I’ll run with it for as long as I can.”
Having trimmed their training camp roster by a quarter on Thursday, the Ducks were able to begin work in smaller groups on Thursday at The RINKS-Anaheim ICE, in particular focusing on special teams.

A new wrinkle emerged from the proceedings, with Bobby Ryan on the point alongside defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky on the first power play unit that also featured forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. It’s yet again another new assignment for the newly christened center.

“When you have skilled players and he is one of our most skilled players, we think it would be foolish not to put him into as many offensive situations as possible,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle of Ryan, who has some experience at the point during his stints in the American Hockey League. “We like Visnovsky as a rover out there. He’s got a big one-time shot from the right side. Bobby has vision and can shoot the puck himself, so we’ll give it a whirl.”

Already having moved from right to left wing for the Ducks and now switching from wing to center, change is nothing new for Ryan at the NHL level. But it goes a little bit deeper than that for the 23-year-old, who if not for a position switch as a teenager, could have been known as defenseman Bobby Ryan.

It was on the blue line where the forward began playing hockey and stayed until getting to juniors at the age of 15. A coach decided to try him on the front line and Ryan “never looked back” from there. Those defensive skills will come in handy if and when he is to play the point, as he’ll have to have the team’s own end in the back of his mind.

“When you play with a guy who can see the game, can pass and has unbelievable skills, it’s never a bad thing,” said Selanne (left) of Ryan (right).
“I’ve played D for a good portion of my life,” Ryan said. “I don’t mind if they come back the other way. I can certainly handle myself. I think he’s looking for guys who are willing to shoot from back there. I don’t think there is any question that I look to do that. I’ll try to step in.  It’s nice to get out there with those players in that situation. It gives you a chance for success. I’ll run with it for as long as I can.”

After 12 players were sent to Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse or back to their junior teams, things are also starting to take shape in the 5-on-5 game. The Ducks appear poised to attack opponents with three scoring lines. There is no doubt one grouping will feature longtime linemates Getzlaf and Perry. From there, Ryan and Saku Koivu will likely center the next two lines. Placements from there are still being juggled, but the odds-on-favorite for Thursday appeared to be Selanne teaming up with Ryan.

“The idea is for me to play with Teemu and get him the puck,” Ryan said. “We’re starting to do more practice drills like that together. I don’t think there is any hiding what Teemu brings to the table. He is going to fly down that wing and always going to be around the puck. It’s exciting and I’m starting to figure him out a little bit.”

"By the moves that we have made, we’re getting ourselves down to a very workable group in a short period of time. We play back-to-back on the weekend. Then, we have just three left. I would suspect that we are going to play as close to a veteran lineup as we go forward and we get more and more close to our team." - Randy Carlyle
Having played with Ryan, the winger, on several occasions over the last two years, Selanne is keen to what his potential new center brings to the table. “When you play with a guy who can see the game, can pass and has unbelievable skills, it’s never a bad thing,” he said.

“I got the feeling early that the team wanted Bobby to be a center. That gives us a lot of depth and options. This time of the year, it’s good to try different combinations. Down the road, you’re going to see injuries here and there. The teams that have three good lines are really going to have success. How we are going to get those three lines, let’s see how it happens.”

Back-to-back preseason games lie ahead in the next two days, with a date at San Jose (whom the Ducks beat 5-2 last night) on Friday, followed by Vancouver on Saturday. All the active players left on the roster are making the trip, so it is possible that these new configurations will start getting tested soon.

“By the moves that we have made, we’re getting ourselves down to a very workable group in a short period of time,” Carlyle said. “We play back-to-back on the weekend. Then, we have just three left. I would suspect that we are going to play as close to a veteran lineup as we go forward and we get more and more close to our team.”
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