The Olympic break can’t come soon enough for Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan. While his team has been on an impressive post-Christmas run, climbing back into the Eastern Conference playoff race, Ryan heads into Saturday’s final pre-Olympic game against the Boston Bruins in the midst of a dreadful slump. And judging by the line combinations at practice Friday, Ryan could also be on what amounts to a third line — playing alongside Mika Zibanejad and Cory Conacher — against the Bruins. Ryan, bypassed for selection on the U.S. Olympic team earlier this year, has spent most of the season on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, who have enjoyed great chemistry together. While Ryan still leads the Senators with 20 goals, he has scored only two goals and five assists in his past 17 games, and at practice Friday, Erik Condra was holding down the right wing spot with Turris and MacArthur. The normally talkative Ryan wasn’t commenting on any of it, leaving Canadian Tire Centre without talking to the media, before the team boarded its afternoon charter to Boston. Coach Paul MacLean, however, insists he’s not dismayed by the Ryan slump and suggests the team may not even line up the same way when the puck drops in Boston Saturday. Some lineup shuffling was necessary because Stephane Da Costa was assigned to Binghamton Friday and heavyweight Matt Kassian is expected to be back in the lineup against Boston. “We’re not concerned about it at all,” MacLean said. “(Ryan) has to keep working at it. He had five, six, seven or eight (shot) attempts (in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Buffalo). They’re going to go in. It’s a matter of time.” If the lines do stay the same, Zibanejad will be excited to be back at his more comfortable centre ice position, and at the prospect of playing with a perennial 30-goal scorer. “He’s a high-end, top scorer, maybe he just needs a greasy one to get him going,” said Zibanejad, whose most consistent offensive success this season came when he was playing centre between Milan Michalek and Conacher. “(Ryan) is getting his chances. The pucks just aren’t going in.” The Senators, who have posted a record of 11-3-4 since Dec. 28, could possibly be in a wild-card playoff position heading into the Olympic break if they defeat the Bruins and they get some help.
Bobby Ryan has struggled since Olympic snub
Senators Extra | Feb 8