Bobby Ryan is proving to be the $7 million man the Ottawa Senators knew they had. After what can be described as an underwhelming regular season, Ryan is quickly silencing his critics and proving his worth to the Senators early in the postseason with his exceptional play. There is no doubt that if the Senators are to go on a run during the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, they need their top players to be their best players and Ryan is stepping up to that challenge.
Turning the Page
The Senators traded for Ryan in July 2013 with the hopes he would generate significant offense. Drafted second overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft behind Sidney Crosby, Ryan excelled offensively with 289 points in 378 regular season games with the Anaheim Ducks. Since the Senators made that blockbuster deal to bring him into the organization, Ryan hasn’t been the same type of player. He has 183 points in 291 regular season games with the Senators but more notably, he is coming off one of his worst career regular season performances. Through 62 regular season games in 2016-17, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native managed merely 25 points.
Although it’s early in the postseason, when the puck was dropped in Game 1 between the Senators and the Bruins, Ryan’s game took a complete 180-degree turn and Senators fans are now seeing that offensive weapon that was so lethal with the Ducks. Through the first three games of the postseason, Ryan has five points, including two game-winning goals in Games 3 and 4.
Playing With MacArthur
The turnaround for Ryan coincides with the return of Clarke MacArthur to the Senators lineup. Since MacArthur’s return, head coach Guy Boucher has put the trio of MacArthur, Derick Brassard and Ryan together. This line was played in the first two games of the Senators’ opening round series against the Bruins and has proved to be quite effective.
In the opening game of the series, Ryan scored a goal and set-up MacArthur for a great scoring chance but was denied by Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask. In the second game of the series, the trio came up big for the Senators. They had a combined four points in helping the Senators tie the series at one game a piece. A big moment came when Ryan sent a great pass to MacArthur in the open slot, scoring his first goal since the last time the Senators were in the playoffs in 2015.
A healthy Clarke MacArthur and a confident Bobby Ryan is like adding two new forwards. We'll see if Ryan can keep it up. Big time goal.
— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) April 13, 2017
Even before the season started, Boucher was excited to see the trio of Ryan, Brassard and MacArthur together. Before MacArthur suffered a concussion during training camp, the trio played together and looked like they were enjoying chemistry. Perhaps the missing link in Ryan’s game was finding the right chemistry in his linemates. Ryan has that now with the return of MacArthur.
What a great moment for Clarke MacArthur and the Ottawa fans. pic.twitter.com/d90lwA85F9
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) April 15, 2017
Fans have been frustrated with Ryan’s regular season offensive production. To their credit, even Ryan has acknowledged that he needed to do more. Ryan has answered the bell in the playoffs with five points in four games, with two of his goals proving to be game-winners. After scoring the overtime game-winning goal in Game 3, Ryan spoke about picking up his game in the postseason with TSN 1200’s Gord Wilson:
I felt like this was an opportunity to put that season behind me, the 82 games. People are going to say what they are going to say and be on me for it for a long time, that’s what happens when your paid what your paid and expected to do things. I have a chance to make my money in the playoffs, I am going to try and do everything I can for us now.
After regaining his scoring touch and rebuilding his confidence in the postseason, perhaps now the Senators will get the production from Ryan that they have been waiting for. Most importantly, it is coming at the best possible moment — during the Senators’ 2017 playoff campaign for a Stanley Cup.