In the absence of Ryan Getzlaf, perhaps no player has stepped up like Bobby Ryan. His hat trick tonight was the cherry on top of a recent surge that has the Ducks winning three straight after an uninspired performance against Nashville.
Ryan couldn't cut the mustard at center to Randy Carlyle's satisfaction at the opening of the season, but has found his stride in his second turn at pivot. Arthur, Bobby Ryan seems to have found his confidence again, and he's found it in the center of the ice, so assuming he can continue at this level, do you think he's earned the right to his own line when Getzlaf comes back?
Yeah, I think you have to say that he has. Especially if he's still hot when Getzlaf gets back. Ryan's bearing down on his chances right now, and he's playing the position well in the offensive zone. Plus, I don't think Carlyle's goal to open the season (rolling three lines) has really changed. So why deny him something now that Carlyle was willing to gift him to open the season?
Were there some missteps in the defensive zone? Sure, but if the Ducks are really rolling three lines, that seems like the kind of thing you could hide with matchups and evenly spread ice time. Then you have to allow for his ability to improve at the position or be particularly dominant in a matchup against another team.
Generally, though, I think the knock against Bobby Ryan, maybe since Honeybaked, has been, "if he would only move his feet more." Randy Carlyle theorized one of the main advantages of Ryan at center was that the kid would learn to move his feet, learn not to turn his back on the puck and would be the better player for it. We make a lot of jokes about Bobby Ryan blocking us on Twitter breaking the slump, and we take shots at Carlyle's coaching decisions. But here, it's hard to argue that Carlyle isn't right, that this wasn't the best move for Bobby and that he hasn't risen to the occasion, thus earning his own spinoff.
There are certainly advantages to giving Bobby Ryan his own line. As you mentioned, the match-ups he'll get as a third line center will limit mistakes and increase production. I think the biggest advantage would be spreading ice time. That'll help keep the veteran players on the second line fresher down the stretch. I think the Ducks have to explore this going forward for the benefit of the franchise.
Of course, that doesn't mean Bobby is going to have an easy time anchoring the third line. Let's not forget how instrumental Corey Perry has been in getting Bobby Ryan started. He's fed Bobby up front more than once since Getzlaf has been down. Bobby has been hitting a little more, but I wouldn't say that he's been dominant in the corners. Corey is still doing a lot of the dirty work while Bobby reaps the benefits. That's not necessarily a bad thing. We both griped that Bobby needs to start finishing his chances. He has. But it's important to remember that the work of Corey Perry created a lot of the chances that helped Bobby Ryan get his finishing touch back. Still, I think Bobby has earned the opportunity and Carlyle needs to give him a serious look centering Lupul and McMillan.