Sen­a­tors’ Bobby Ryan sees move to third line as an op­por­tu­nity

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - HOCKEY BY LISA WAL­LACE THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Some might call it a de­mo­tion, but Bobby Ryan prefers to see it as an op­por­tu­nity.

Ryan, the Sen­a­tors high­est paid for­ward, was moved to Ot­tawa’s third line Satur­day af­ter­noon along­side Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Tom Py­att as they took on the New York Is­lan­ders.

The ex­per­i­ment proved suc­cess­ful as the trio shut down the Is­lan­ders’ top line and it ap­pears they will re­main to­gether Tues­day night as the Sen­a­tors host the Buf­falo Sabres.

Most as­sumed Ryan would be dis­ap­pointed with the new as­sign­ment, but the 29-yearold prefers to look at it as a new chal­lenge.

“Truth­fully they play the most min­utes so I’m ex­cited for the op­por­tu­nity,” said Ryan. “Last game was (John) Tavares, next game com­ing in will prob­a­bly be (Jack) Eichel, so I don’t mind those match-ups one bit. Call it the third or de­fen­sive line or what­ever you will, but those guys are play­ing well.

“I think (Sen­a­tors coach Guy Boucher) saw an op­por­tu­nity to slide me into a role and see if I could han­dle it. He came to me be­fore the game and asked and I said ab­so­lutely. I re­ally don’t mind, I don’t. I know there’s peo­ple who have their opin­ions on it, but if that’s what he wants me to do I’m go­ing to do it. I’m just go­ing to come in and go to work. I can’t con­trol those things.”

Boucher says peo­ple need to stop eval­u­at­ing Ryan’s sea­son on stats alone and look at his over­all per­for­mance.

“If you’re not scor­ing, but you’re play­ing great, you’re help­ing the team and that’s what Bobby has done, he’s help­ing our team,” Boucher said. “If he wasn’t play­ing well, if he was lazy, if he was un­re­li­able then it would be a dif­fer­ent story. Then I would be un­happy and I would tell you he has had a tough stretch, but right now he’s not hav­ing a tough stretch in how he’s play­ing. He’s hav­ing a tough stretch fin­ish­ing or maybe not choos­ing to shoot some­times. . . but the rest for me has been good.”

As a mem­ber of the Ana­heim Ducks, Ryan had four con­sec­u­tive sea­sons with 30 or more goals, but since be­ing ac­quired by the Sen­a­tors in 2013 he’s never sur­passed 23 goals.

Af­ter 47 games this sea­son, Ryan has 11 goals and 21 points and will need a solid fin­ish to have a chance to hit the 20-goal mark.

“I think peo­ple need to get over that sea­son in Ana­heim and start look­ing at him here in Ot­tawa,” Boucher said. “Now he’s got a new coach who’s ask­ing some­thing new from him.

“Me putting him against the best play­ers isn’t about a lack of con­fi­dence, it’s the op­po­site. I found that he’s been play­ing so well de­fen­sively and up front he’s one of the few who can of­fer us phys­i­cal strength and can still make plays along the boards while un­der pres­sure. I need a player like that against other teams’ best lines.”

Ob­vi­ously Ryan would like to con­trib­ute more of­fen­sively, but he’s not go­ing to force things. He ad­mits that ev­ery­where he goes - restau­rants, gro­cery stores, movies - peo­ple are telling him he needs to shoot more, but he’s more con­cerned with mak­ing the right play than get­ting a shot on goal.

With just 77 shots this sea­son Ryan could eas­ily af­ford to be a lit­tle self­ish and shoot the puck more of­ten, but he just wants to see the team do well.

Craig Anderson will get his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive start Tues­day against the Sabres.

AP PHOTO

Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors for­ward Bobby Ryan (9) con­trols the puck dur­ing an NHL game against the Buf­falo Sabres on Satur­day Feb. 4, in Buf­falo, N.Y.

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