The Ottawa Senators are enjoying a strong start to the 2017-18 season without star defenceman Erik Karlsson.
Ottawa completed the three-game sweep on its Western Canada road trip for the first time in franchise history with a convincing 6-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night to push its record to 3-0-2.
Fresh off a trip to the Eastern Conference Final last season, the Senators haven’t seemed to miss a beat, effectively weathering the storm in Karlsson’s absence. Forward Bobby Ryan thinks continuity is a big reason for the early season success.
“I think that was a big part of our training camp was getting back to that level that we finished at,” Ryan told Scott Oake and Louie DeBrusk on After Hours Saturday. “For us, we didn’t have to learn a new system this year coming in, we were comfortable with the way we play and fell right back into that rhythm. We’re reaping the benefits of it right now and we’re sticking to it.”
While hockey can serve as a reprieve from everyday stresses, perhaps no one understands that there are much more important things in life than Ryan.
The 30-year-old had a tough childhood to say the least, and lost his mother to liver cancer in the summer of 2016.
Ryan opened up to Oake and DeBrusk about the special relationship he shared with his late mother and how Nicholle Anderson’s battle with cancer brought the team closer..
On the unbreakable bond he shared with his mother
“We struggled through all the financial burdens especially living in California, trying to play hockey in California. My mom took on a lot. She worked at the rink in the mornings so I could skate for free and at the airlines at night so I could fly for free and on standby.
“Every two weeks we kind of carved out an afternoon and went for the [California Pizza Kitchen] lunch special, the Caesar salad and half a pizza or whatever it was and that was our time to put all that aside. That was what we waited for every two weeks. Every time I drive by [a California Pizza Kitchen] it’s hard not to get emotional. It’s one of those things that will continue to resonate with me for the rest of my life.”
On how Nicholle Anderson’s sickness affected the Sens
“You can use it two ways and we used it to unify us. We lost Craig to go be with her for a little while and we had guys come in and step up and we were there to support him when he came back, there to support both of them. I think a lot of our team, the run that we had is because we might not be the best team on paper, and a lot of nights we aren’t, but a lot of nights we’re the better team.”
Ryan also goes on to discuss his relationship with the city of Ottawa, dropping beer league hockey players down a peg, and how long it took to get over last season’s heartbreaking playoff defeat. Watch the entire segment in the video player at the top of this page.