There's a reason why Bobby Ryan leads his team in goal scoring, with 28, going into the Olympic break. And it's the same reason that Ryan was able to beat his Ducks teammate Jonas Hiller late in the first period of Team USA's Olympic opener against Switzerland.
It's his release.
Not only does Ryan get the puck off his stick and on the net quicker than most players in the National Hockey League, but it's his ability to shoot the puck from positions that for most players don't appear to either be comfortable or even possible to get any power behind the shot. Most guys need to have the puck well in front of them, so that they can put their legs, butt and big muscles behind their shots.
Not Ryan. He not only can shoot it from what appear to be awkward positions--tight to his body or skates--but he has the uncanny ability to put in places in the net that seem to be impossible to hit.
In a Ducks game several weeks ago, he was parked along the right boards in the offensive zone, got the puck on his stick, very close to his feet. Most players would need to create some space between them and their stick to shoot. Not Ryan. He simply gave a quick look at the goalie, flicked his wrists and fired a shot off the far post and into the upper corner for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
The goal against Hiller in the first period of today's game wasn't as challenging. Ryan was in the high slot. He had time and space to shoot and he made no mistake, burying a rocket over Hiller's trapper and into the upper left hand corner of the net.
As we said in our first missive today, Hiller is on the record saying that he has no idea where Ryan's shot is going in practice--not only because of his release, but also because of that ability to be so accurate from such uncomfortable shooting positions.
Today, Hiller experienced something that he never had to do before--not only facing Bobby Ryan in a game, but being beaten by him.
Join the club, Jonas. It's growing larger and larger every day.
UPDATE: While I was writing this, Team USA took a 3-0 lead with about a period and a half to go in the game. First a great rush down the left side and a backhand to forehand move by David Backes of St. Louis, then a more traditional NHL-type goal by Ryan Malone of Tampa Bay, just jamming one through Hiller's pads to make it 3-0.