Bobby Ryan is getting ready for his first taste of the Battle of Ontario as the Ottawa Senators prepare to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Of course, Ryan isn’t the only former member of the Anaheim Ducks that’s involved in the clash, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle will also be in attendance.
It might seem appropriate that Ryan and Carlyle now find themselves on opposite sides of this heated rivalry as they didn’t always see eye-to-eye in Anaheim and that helped spur the trade rumors that hung over Ryan for years. However, Ryan thinks people were overestimating the problems between the two and while he wouldn’t term their relationship as great, he isn’t blind to what Carlyle did for him.
“He’s a tough coach,” Ryan told the Ottawa Sun. “I do still really owe him quite a bit for becoming the player I am. That isn’t lost on me one bit.”
In reflection, the 26-year-old forward thinks that in his youth, he didn’t always understand what Carlyle was trying to do for him and Ryan took things too personally. Now that he’s matured, he can appreciate that his former coach had the best of intentions.
“I can take things and separate them now whereas I couldn’t when I was younger,” Ryan said. “I just always felt like I was the scapegoat with him. Sometimes I needed more than I knew … That pressure, that push. I certainly regret a lot of what went on.”
Now Carlyle will have to face and try to counter the man he helped guide into the player he is today. Meanwhile, Ryan will try to push a promising young team towards greatness.
When you talk about the best lines in the NHL, don’t sleep on the trio Johnny Gaudreau is leading for the Calgary Flames.
With his 10th goal of the season coming early in a Flames – Washington Capitals game that is ongoing, Gaudreau collected his 30th point of 2017-18. As of this writing, only two other players have hit that mark so far: Steven Stamkos (35 points) and Nikita Kucherov (33), the headliners of a Tampa Bay Lightning trio that’s grabbing a lot of, well, headlines.
Here’s the goal Gaudreau scored against the Caps, keeping in mind that he has plenty of time to add to his lofty totals:
This Gaudreau guy is pretty good at hockey. Holtby doesn't let many players beat him on clean looks like that.
To an extent, it feels like Gaudreau’s fantastic work has been sneaking under the radar, at least compared to the likes of Stamkos – Kucherov. Then again, maybe some of it has to do with the fact that his hot streak is at least somewhat concentrated in the last few weeks?
Johnny Gaudreau in the past 10 games: 8 goals, 10 assists. He good.
Gaudreau, no doubt, is the catalyst. His playmaking ability is often spellbinding, and he’s well beyond questions about being a flash in the pan at this point in his career. The 24-year-old came into tonight’s game with 233 points in 251 career regular-season games; he’s scored more than the likes of Joe Pavelski and Evgeni Malkin since becoming a full-time player in 2014-15, according to Hockey Reference. (He ranks 12th overall during that span.)
There remains a debate about how much Sean Monahan can accomplish without Gaudreau, yet the counterpoint would be to wonder if it’s really that wise to mess with such a good thing. Such an argument is especially tough to make on the heels of his first career hat trick:
While Gaudreau has eight goals and 10 assists for a whopping 18 points (and possibly counting) during a 10-game point streak, Monahan collected his 21st point of this season on the primary assist. He added a helper to that hat trick the other night, so even if he’s stopped for the rest of Monday, Monahan has five points in two games. He also generated a six-game point streak (three goals, five assists) from Oct. 27 – Nov. 9.
When people haven’t been discussing Monahan’s dependence upon Gaudreau, they’ve wondered who might be the right winger for that dynamic duo.
The big 25-year-old currently has 12 points in 18 games, but he’s really been revving up his production as of late. The Flyers snapped his five-game goal streak on Nov. 18, yet he extended his point streak to six contests with an assist (5G, 3A).
Logically, Ferland makes some sense for Gaudreau – Monahan. Neither of those forwards brings a lot of beef to the table, and Ferland has also shown some signs that he possesses the ability to finish the chances they can set up. As fun as it is to watch Jaromir Jagr with those two, Ferland might end up being the best fit for them since Jiri Hudler’s better Flames days.
(Ferland didn’t get an assist on Gaudreau’s goal, so he’ll need to generate some offense as this game goes along to keep his impressive streak going.)
Stamkos, Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov probably carry the championship belts as the best scoring line in hockey, at least right now. One of the delightful things about this relatively high-scoring start to the season is that there are plenty of contenders for that imaginary title, and Gaudreau’s group shouldn’t be shortchanged in such debates.
The above concerns of all parties involved were genuine, of course, Hurricanes management, too, were likely chomping at the bit as they awaited the Finn’s scoring touch around the net.
Perhaps Aho just doesn’t like running with the big pack out of the gate. Slow and steady, as the old saying goes. Despite the lack of pucks behind goalies, Aho has been a strong possession player this season and his expected goal numbers are equally as good.
Aho also has his brief history in pro hockey on his side.
Indeed, Aho’s rookie season didn’t start much different. Last season, it took the Finn 13 games to score his first NHL goal, but he managed to finish the season with 24, an impressive number from a new commodity.
He was only off that pace by two games this season.
It took him 15 games (over four-and-a-half hours of ice time) to register his name and number in the goal section of the scoresheet.
“Before, I never used my stick in any way like that,” he said. “It was unfortunate.”
Despite the ugliness of the slash, Perreault was fine and hasn’t missed any games for the Winnipeg Jets. He was well-aware of Gudas’ rap sheet and while he said the defenseman apologized, he was weary at the thought it wasn’t intentional.
“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose,” Perreault said last week. “It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”
Gudas won’t be able to return to the Flyers’ lineup until Dec. 12 and it doesn’t look like he’s going to appeal. It will be interesting to see what happens the next time he runs afoul of the NHL rulebook given this latest suspension.
“I don’t agree with it, but I accept their decision,” Gudas said. “There’s not much else I can say.”
A Montreal Canadiens team struggling for answers in the early going this season got a bit of a boost on Monday.
Goaltender Carey Price returned to practice on Monday morning in Montreal, a welcome sign for a team struggling to stop pucks and desperate to start winning as they wallow in the depths of the Eastern Conference.
Truth be told, the Canadiens weren’t very good with Price in the lineup before he went down with a lower-body injury, forcing him to miss the past eight games.
In 11 starts, Price has been above a .900 save percentage in just three of them and owns a 3-7-1 record. His save percentage sits at .877 with an equally unhealthy 3.77 goals-against average.
Montreal has the second-worst team save percentage in the league at .886 and have several other issues to contend with, including being 29th in goals for, 30th in goals against, 27th in power-play efficiency, 28th killing penalties and dead last in shooting percentage.
Indeed, the Canadiens will take any positives that come their way at the moment.