It’s almost hard to believe, given how well he has played in his brief NHL career, that Bobby Ryan merely matched a career high with his three-point game Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. (Didn’t he sprinkle a four-point game in there somewhere? Maybe a five-pointer?)
Perhaps this is more evidence of Ryan’s consistency, something that’s impressed Saku Koivu in their three-plus weeks together as linemates.
“I heard about him a lot before I got here and how talented he is,” said Koivu, who was on the ice for all four Ducks goals Tuesday. “I get surprised with his consistency. He doesn’t take too many nights off. As an older guy, the one thing that I can do is push him a bit more and make sure there won’t be as many nights where you can’t find him.”
Ryan’s 5-on-4 power-play goal in the second period, seconds after a 5-on-3 shift expired for the Ducks, was his 100th point in his 126th career regular-season game. It also proved to be the game-winner as Anaheim went on to beat the Wild 4-2.
Koivu and Ryan have found chemistry, along with rookie Dan Sexton, since the three were thrown together in Sexton’s NHL debut Dec. 4. In the 12 games since, Ryan is 7-7-14, Koivu is 3-7-10 and Sexton is 6-3-9 (goals-assists-points).
It’s tempting to believe that now, being a greater focal point of the offensive attack, Ryan is simply playing more assertively than he would with the established pairs of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, or Koivu and Teemu Selanne.
But Ryan said that is not the case.
“I think we were lucky enough we found chemistry right away,” he said. “‘Sex’ came in right away and brought a lot of energy to the line, and ‘Sak’ and I, anytime you get a guy that loves to pass the puck, and a guy who loves to shoot it like myself, you’re going to create chances. It’s a different look of a line, that’s for sure. We play a lot more off the rush. It’s been very comfortable for me.”
Randy Carlyle called the line a “marriage” — which begs an additional pun about “Sex” and “chemistry” — but we’ll let the coach break down the group’s success from a more technical standpoint:
“Sexton surprises people because he gets in there and he’s hard to control,” Carlyle said. “He’s a darting type of player. He’s got that low center of gravity, low to the ice, and he gets underneath people. If they want to stop him, they have to hook and hold him.
“Bobby, we know his skills; the tenacity of Koivu and the way how hard he works on both sides of the puck; and getting them the puck to start with, on faceoffs specifically, it always is an advantage when you can start with the puck.”
The New Jersey native Ryan will have to wait 48 hours, hopefully without too much envy, after some of his Canadian-born teammates are named to their country’s Olympic roster today. Team USA will be revealed Friday, and Ryan’s credentials are becoming increasingly harder for general manager Brian Burke to ignore: 19 goals and 14 assists, the former matching Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone for the lead among American-born players.
Carlyle said that neither Ryan, nor any of the myriad Olympic candidates on the Ducks’ roster, have shown a preoccupation with the process since Carlyle warned against it in the preseason.