After a particularly tumultuous 2016-17 season saw Bobby Ryan post just 25 points through 62 games – the lowest points per game pace of his career – the Ottawa Senators veteran found his offensive rhythm in the grind of the playoffs.
Through 19 post-season tilts, Ryan led all Senators forwards with 15 points, doubling his previous career-high playoff total. As Ottawa heads into the new season looking to build off its sterling 2017 run, Ryan said he now has a clearer understanding of how he can be successful in a Senators sweater.
“I think I was a little more aggressive (in the playoffs),” Ryan told the Ottawa Citizen‘s Don Brennan. “I think a lot of the regular season I was trying to figure out where I fit within the system, how I was going to be aggressive.
“There’s a learning curve with everybody, but it took me longer to kind of grasp how I could be successful, and it clicked at the right time. Going into this year, I won’t have to do that. I’ll know where I can be a little more aggressive, and where I have to stay back. The chances I can take, and can’t.”
The Senators rolled out a brand new offensive scheme in 2016-17 with veteran bench boss Guy Boucher taking over head coaching duties prior to the season.
Ryan struggled to find his way through much of the season, one in which he was also limited to just 62 games. Unable to navigate the new setup right off the bat, the 30-year-old saw his shots per game drop down below the 2.0 mark for the first time since his first go-round in the big leagues.
Righting the ship in the post-season – and raising his trigger rate to 2.21 shots per game – Ryan said he rediscovered his elite potential.
“To get back to playing well and contributing — and playing some of the bigger minutes — meant a lot to me,” Ryan said. “I think it taught me that I’m still capable of it, because you doubt yourself when you’re going through a year like that.
“I’m going to try to identify with the player I was (during the playoffs), rather than the guy in the middle of the season.”