The Anaheim Ducks certainly felt the loss of Bobby Ryan, who missed Game 3 of the Ducks’ series with the Nashville Predators after stomping on the skate of Jonathon Blum. Ryan will also sit out Game 4 on Wednesday.
The Ducks are now 1-2 against Nashville going into Game 4 and will have to figure out how to better fill the gap left by one of their leading scorers and a member of the Ducks’ top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Head coach Randy Carlyle started Brandon McMillan at left wing in place of Ryan but the Ducks just couldn’t get their game together. Although Teemu Selanne scored two goals just 30 seconds apart to tie up the game in the second period, the Predators seemed to just skate circles around the Anaheim club. Mike Fisher sealed the Predators deal when he scored his third goal of the series in the third period.
Coming off a big win in Game 2 and hoping to carry that momentum to Tennessee, Ryan’s suspension, which was handed down after NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell called the kick “reckless and dangerous,” couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
Although many agree that the NHL acted accordingly by penalizing Ryan for his kick, the amount of time is questionable. One playoff game can be equated to two regular season games, and a two-game suspension on one of a team’s best players can be a kiss of death for Stanley Cup dreams. With Ryan out for another game, the Ducks may find themselves in a 1-3 hole that they just can’t get out of. In such an evenly matched series, one wonders, if Nashville moves to the next round, are they really the best team or just really lucky?
Ryan is a first time offender and not known as a particularly vicious player. While his actions were unsafe and careless, a two game suspension for an offense that is probably on the less dangerous side is a bit extreme.
Vancouver’s Raffi Torres, who was given a four-game suspension by the NHL for a hit on Edmonton Oiler’s rookie Jordan Eberle, returned to the ice on Saturday in Game 3 against the Blackhawks and proceeded to crash into Brent Seabrook with a hard blindside hit. In lieu of the NHL’s crackdown on headshot, it’s curious that a repeat offender like Torres was not punished yet Ryan was handed down a potentially devastating suspension.
But, just as the Los Angeles Kings have found a way to work around the loss of All-Star Anze Kopitar, the Ducks need to make the necessary adjustments to battle back against Nashville or hope for better luck next year.
Check out Bobby Ryan’s stomp on Jonathon Blum:
Raffi Torres’ hit on Brent Seabrook: