I've been saying it for a while now, but I think Bobby Ryan has been struggling of late. And I thought last night's performance, with Ryan often fumbling the puck, was rather representative of those struggles.
Arthur, you've been hesitant to agree, but as we watched the Bruins game together, I think you're coming over to the dark side. So, I'll ask you point blank, are you ready to agree with me yet? Is Bobby Ryan struggling?
Yeah, I absolutely agree. And I think the problem is that he's trying to do too much by himself. He's not making the little plays to move the puck. Every time he has the chance to possess the puck, even shorthanded, he tries to keep it on his stick and advance it by himself.
That sort of problem is akin to what Andy Sutton was doing before he was scratched, trying to move the play and take risks with the puck to get it to a possession player. Too bad it's not a puck possession system.
The team ran into problems like this last year, where various players were trying to do too much, so I don't think it spells long term trouble or anything, but I want to see the same rote and consistent approach Bobby is applying to his defense on offense. I want to see him manage the puck better and really find a game that is less about him carrying it out of the zone or through the neutral zone, and definitely less about him taking shots from distance in those situations.
There was some playmaking around the blueline last night, but I think Bobby needs to commit to some of the playmaking and grinding down low. I don't think the entire line's play relies on him or anything, but for me to say Bobby is playing well, he can't be doing this every night.
I wish I could put my finger on why Ryan decided he wanted to get away from the cycle game that was working for him when the year started. Bobby can't seem to get it into his head that he's more successful when he adapts to the twins instead of doing it the other way around. Right now, he just looks lost. I don't know if anyone saw the movie "Goal! The Dream Begins", but it's about a young Mexican-American kid who gets picked up by a professional English football team. There's this part where the coach kicks the ball down the field and tells him to beat the ball to the other end. The ultimate lesson is that no man moves faster than the ball. Bobby Ryan needs to see that movie.
It's not like Bobby has been left in the dark. His job is to be the forward that complements the twins. It's not glorious work, but as Dustin Penner can tell you, it certainly pays well. Work the cycle, keep the puck alive, let someone else make a play and then get in position. Bobby just isn't getting it done. Personally, I think Bobby wants to be a number one guy, and he can't do that on the top line.
Bobby Ryan is Ryan Kesler in sniper clothing. Kesler will always play second fiddle to the Sedins, but is that so bad? Bobby doesn't bring his lunch pail everyday like Perry. He hasn't dominated a playoff series or produced a point per game for a full season like Getzlaf. He's not a star yet. If he wants to get paid like a big kid, then he needs to start playing like one. We can complain about Getzlaf's consistency all we want, but he finds a way to right the ship, and he's done enough to earn a little rope. Bobby hasn't.
I feel bad for Bobby. He's come up in an organization that has lost its way, and as a result, he has the same problem the team does, no identity. Until he finds it, he needs to make simpler, smarter plays, and make sure he is exactly where Getzlaf and Perry need him to be for the big line to dominate.