Ottawa Senators fans have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride over the last few years. Daniel Alfredsson left via free agency following the 2012-13 season and Jason Spezza requested a trade this summer and he was shipped to the Dallas Stars. General manager Bryan Murray tried to stop the bleeding this summer by signing star forward Bobby Ryan to a seven-year contract extension.
The deal is worth more than $50 million in total. Ryan carries a cap hit of $7.25 million and with great dollars comes great responsibility. Something that might be lost on the 28-year-old forward.
Ottawa made a charge to a playoff spot on the back of goaltender Andrew Hammond and rookie Mark Stone. Kyle Turris has been spectacular and Erik Karlsson has stepped up his game defensively down the stretch. While the Sens were making their Cinderella run, there was one name you didn’t hear all that often.
A guy that really needs to get going? Bobby Ryan. It's been a rough 3 months.. pic.twitter.com/0KeF7EQQ2X
— Callum Fraser (@CallumFraser18) April 19, 2015
Ryan is paid to be the go-to guy on offense for the Senators. He’s not expected to do everything himself, but he hasn’t scored a goal since March 19 against the Boston Bruins. Counting Game 3, Ryan gone 15 consecutive games without finding the back of the net. Worse, he’s not setting up his teammates for tallies either.
Over his last 15 contests, the 6’2″ forward has four assists, but three of them came in a single game on March 23. Remove that one pop and Ryan has a total of one point in his last 15 outings. For a guy that is paid to generate offense, that’s unacceptable. He took just two shots in Games 1 and 2 and the Habs were able to secure a 2-0 lead heading into Game 3, in part due to a lack of scoring punch from the Senators.
Five goals in two games isn’t awful, but Ottawa looks to Ryan to be a difference maker. This is especially true since Stone doesn’t appear to be able to shoot the puck particularly well because of the Subban slash.
The rookie has still been able to find ways to generate in the offensive zone, which is more than can be said for Ryan. He’s come close a few times, but Ryan has been totally snake bitten for a long stretch of time now. Maybe it’s a mental thing, and the goals will likely start coming in bunches if he can find a way to break the current streak. The Senators don’t have that many more games to work with though.
They need Ryan to start producing now, otherwise the Habs can continue to focus on shutting down the top trio of Turris, Stone and Clark MacArthur. The line of Milan Michalek, Mika Zibanejad and Ryan should be threatening way more often than they are. Zibanejad has has some spectacular individual efforts, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Ryan is a guy that could make a difference in this series. He needs to shoot more than he has been, but even that might not be enough to jump-start his game. Carey Price isn’t the kind of goalie that gets beaten by outside shots all that often. He’s arguably the best goaltender in the World and trying to snipe from the fringes of the slot isn’t going to do the trick.
Ryan is known as a sniper, but he scores a majority of his goals around the net mouth. That might explain his plummeting shooting percentage. Throughout his career, Ryan has converted on 12.9% of his shots, but this season that number has sank all the way to 8.1%. If you’re looking for his offense, you can find it in that 4.8% decrease in shooting efficiency.
Ryan might be stuck in a Rick Nash-esque rut. It happens to just about every player in the NHL. That doesn’t make it any easier for the Senators to win games without his goal scoring support though. Ryan hasn’t been effective and the Senators trail the Habs 3-0 heading into Game 4.
If Ottawa is going to have a prayer of making a comeback, Ryan will have to be at the center of it.