One thing you can always depend on with Bobby Ryan, the veteran winger with the Ottawa Senators, is a straightforward answer to a straightforward question.
There is no ducking the punches with this guy – as Riley Nash of the Boston Bruins can attest – no stand-pat responses that are commonplace in the limited vocabularies professional athletes use when dealing with the media.
The 30-year-old is having himself a whale of a postseason with the Senators in their opening-round NHL playoff series against the Bruins, which is simmering nicely after three games.
Ottawa leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final 2-1, thanks to Ryan’s dramatic overtime goal in Game 3 Monday night.
After Erik Karlsson, the sublime defenceman who plays a key role in just about everything the Senators do, Ryan has been Ottawa’s second-best playoff performer.
Ryan has four points in the series, including two goals – none bigger than his winning tip-in, which gave the Senators a 4-3 hurly-burly triumph over the Bruins on Monday.
Game 4 is Wednesday night at TD Garden and a rollicking affair is anticipated with Ryan now considered public enemy No. 1 among the rabid Boston faithful.
“I guess if that’s the role that I’m going to take on then so be it,” Ryan said. “I’ll be prepared for boos if that’s what happens.”
Redemption is the word that comes to mind with Ryan, who has two goals, two assists and 12 shots in the series.
This on the heels of a less-than-stellar regular season in which he struggled with a wrist injury and scored only 13 goals, not the production expected from a player who inked a seven-year, $50-million (U.S) contract extension with the Senators in 2014.
With his resurgence in the playoffs, Ryan is asked repeatedly if this is the best he has played all season.
“It wasn’t hard to go up, was it?” he responded with typical candour following his big game on Monday.
Ryan was the second player chosen overall in the 2005 entry draft, by the Anaheim Ducks, which is no slight when you recollect it was Sidney Crosby who was selected above him.
A perennial 30-goal scorer his first four full NHL seasons, Ryan was traded to Ottawa in 2013 and was expected to provide a big offensive lift.
His lacklustre season often brought him at odds with impatient Ottawa fans, something Ryan said he can understand.
“People are going to say what they’re going to say and be on me for it for a long time,” Ryan said. “That’s what happens when you’re paid and you’re expected to do things. ... I’m going to try to do everything I can for us now.”
Ryan had his nose in everything on Monday night. His game did not get off to a memorable start when he fell trying to control the puck just inside his own blueline early in the second period.
That led to a breakaway goal by Boston’s David Backes. A comfortable 3-0 Ottawa lead was down to 3-2 and soon to be tied heading into the third, where it remained that way until Ryan settled matters in overtime.
The goal occurred with Ottawa on the power play after Nash was sent off for throwing a right cross in Ryan’s face after the two collided into the boards.
Was it the best shot in the chops he has taken, Ryan was asked?
“I’m not giving Nasher the satisfaction over that,” Ryan shot back with a laugh. “Nope, I’ve taken harder.”
It was an iffy call at a crucial moment in the game and when Ryan scored the winner it was just too much for the Bruins’ faithful at TD Garden.
As the Senators left the ice they had to duck as water bottles and goodness knows what else rained down from the stands. One fan tried to pry away the stick of Chris Wideman as he was departing.
Boston interim coach Bruce Cassidy was livid over the penalty call on Nash in the overtime and Ryan’s subsequent goal, which killed the momentum of the Bruins’ big three-goal comeback.
A key for Boston on Wednesday will be to try to get Brad Marchand, a 39-goal scorer over the regular season, away from the relentless Ottawa checking that has stifled his effectiveness to just one goal.
“March can create a bit more out there, and he will,” Cassidy said.Report Typo/Error
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