When Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan was suspended for two games for stomping on the foot of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum, it put the Ducks in a tough spot for the rest of the series. After all, Anaheim came back strong in Game 2 to tie the series up and with their next two games coming on the road in Nashville, being without one of your top players puts you at a big disadvantage.
With Ryan being a part of perhaps the best top line in hockey with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, having a line like that to put out there for instant offense is a luxury for coach Randy Carlyle. Now with Ryan gone for the next two games, he’s got some lineup shuffling to do. So how will the Ducks get by without Bobby Ryan now for the next two games? Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register looked things over to see just who takes his place.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle‘s willingness to take Ryan off that line on quite a few occasions this season might come in handy as he could turn to wingers such as Matt Beleskey or Brad Winchester, who’ve both played up with them. Carlyle may also turn to rookie Brandon McMillan, who was with Getzlaf and Perry for practice.
“We’ve had these situations before and you band together,” he said. ”What you do is you try to share the responsibility. No one guy can replace Bobby Ryan. Collectively, some people are going to have to step up and play to a higher level than they have probably all year. That’s really what we’re asking of our guys.”
Some fans assumed that perhaps 40 year-old Teemu Selanne could draw into that vacant spot on the top line, but breaking up his line with Jason Blake and Saku Koivu would make even less sense. Plus, Selanne plays right wing while Bobby Ryan was taking his spot on the left side of Getzlaf. Moving Selanne to the top line is the sort of move you make in a video game, not real life.
For guys like Beleskey, Winchester, or McMillan their role riding shotgun on that top line is a bit different than what you see from Ryan. They’ll get out there and provide a bit more physicality and aggression. After all, they don’t have the sort of scoring talent to be able to keep up with the likes of Getzlaf and Perry.
It’s a rough situation but one the Ducks have to make the best of and it provides for a rough lesson for Ryan. When he returns in Game 5 expect him to be a lot smarter about what he’s doing on the ice and to have that extra gear of motivation to play at a top level. Nashville might want to protect home ice by winning the next two because a rested Bobby Ryan will be a dangerous Bobby Ryan come Game 5.