|Since Teemu Selanne's injury, Bobby Ryan has totaled two goals (both on the power play) and eight points in five games. |
When Teemu Selanne was carried off the ice at Rexall Place on Dec. 19 with a lacerated thigh, Bobby Ryan’s role on the Ducks quickly intensified.
Thrust onto the Finnish Flash’s spot on the second forward line and on the first power play unit, Ryan was given the burden of trying to emulate Selanne, who at the time of his injury was the team leader in goals and league leader in power play tallies.
The 21-year-old rookie has not disappointed. In the five games without Selanne (including the game against the Oilers, in which Selanne skated only one shift), Ryan has been on the scoresheet in each contest while netting two goals (both with the man advantage) and eight points. His current five-game point streak is the longest yet of his promising career. Also with his recent surge, Ryan has vaulted into a tie for sixth place among rookie scorers in the league despite playing at least 10 games fewer than anybody else in the top 10.
“For a young player, that’s very difficult,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle of Ryan, who also tied a career high with three points on Dec. 22 at Vancouver. “It’s a tribute to him because we had him with Carter and Parros for five or six games, and they started to provide offense. And then we moved him with Ebbett and Morrison after the injury to Selanne, and that line started to provide offense. There’s one common denominator.”
None of Ryan’s points in that five-game span may have been more important to the Ducks than his game-winner on the power play against the Blues on Sunday. The goal not only completed an Anaheim comeback from a 3-2 third period deficit, but it eventually sealed a much-needed victory that brought the team’s three-game losing streak (all in one-goal games) to a close.
“They told me where to be and pucks were going to find me in there with Scotty walking off the half wall so I was just patient,” said Ryan of his goal. “Sure enough, it came and I was able to poke it into an empty net. I think (Blues goalie Chris Mason) probably lost it in the scrum there.”
|"I'm happy to fill a void, obviously," Ryan said. "I've got a few games to make the most of it. For me, it's just move the puck, get open and finish because I know I'm going to get chances." |
But the recent play from Ryan etched in everybody’s memory is the one he made on Saturday night at Dallas. Evading Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen behind the net, Ryan spun and gave Brendan Morrison a feed that goalie Marty Turco never saw until it dented the net behind him.
“That (was) a highlight-reel pass right there,” Morrison said. “My buddy Turco in net didn’t even move.”
Not only has Ryan increased his own production over the last 10 days, but he has invigorated the play of the entire second forward grouping. Frustrated through the first third of the season, Morrison enjoyed back-to-back two-goal games on Dec. 23 and Dec. 27 to double his season total. Fellow rookie Andrew Ebbett scored the first three points of his career in his first three games since being recalled from Iowa.
“I'm happy to fill a void, obviously,” Ryan said. “I've got a few games to make the most of it. For me, it's just move the puck, get open and finish because I know I'm going to get chances.”
While it’s been a season of ups and downs for Ryan – from initially being with the Ducks in training camp to getting reassigned to Iowa just before the season opener to finally getting recalled and then shuffled through the forward lines – his latest landing spot has created a spark that was desperately needed.
“Bobby's an offensive player and you can see that he's a different kind of player now than he was at the beginning of the year,” Carlyle said. “He's gaining confidence on a day-to-day basis.”