Flyers to face Ducks - and Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan

Posted: January 02, 2009

PASADENA, Calif. - The Flyers will try to move into a first-place tie - and will get their first look at winger Bobby Ryan, the pride of Cherry Hill - when they face Anaheim tonight on the fourth stop of their six-game trip.

In 2005, Flyers general manager Bob Clarke tried to move up in the draft by making a deal with Anaheim.

It didn't happen. Anaheim selected Ryan with the No. 2 overall pick - just behind a guy named Sidney Crosby, who went to Pittsburgh - and the Flyers ended up trading down from No. 20 to No. 29 and choosing Steve Downie.

Downie was a bust and, with Steve Eminger, was traded to Tampa Bay in the November deal for Matt Carle.

As for Ryan?

Clarke's instincts were correct. The 21-year-old is blossoming into one of the NHL's most talented young players.

Recalled from Iowa in the AHL on Nov. 15, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Ryan has six goals and 12 assists in 20 games with the Ducks. Ryan, who had five goals and five assists in 23 games with Anaheim last year, already is playing on the Ducks' power play.

Overall, he is second on the team at plus-11. Anaheim (19-15-4), a defense-oriented team, is led by center Ryan Getzlaf (42 points), one of just two Ducks who have reached double figures in goals. The Flyers have six double-figure goal scorers, led by Jeff Carter (27).

Flyers coach John Stevens is familiar with Ryan, having skated with him when the teenager was growing up in South Jersey and occasionally worked out with the AHL's Phantoms.

"I'm happy to see him doing so well," Stevens said. "I think the power play is his game. He's got great hands for a big man, and he's strong on the puck, and he sees the ice really well. That's the part of his game that is really going to be expected of him."

Ryan was known as Bobby Stevenson when he spent his youth in Cherry Hill. His mother will be at tonight's game.

With a win, the Flyers (20-10-7) would tie the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division. That's not bad considering that the Flyers started the season 0-3-3.

Since then, they are 20-7-4, including 1-2 on this trip.

Giroux's big chance. With Simon Gagne expected to miss the next three games because of a strained shoulder, rookie winger Claude Giroux will get a chance to shine for the Flyers. Giroux, who will turn 21 on Jan. 12, is expected to be on the top line with Mike Richards and Mike Knuble tonight.

In Tuesday's 3-2 win in Vancouver, the 5-11, 180-pound Giroux notched his first career point, an assist, and played impressively in 20 minutes, 11 seconds of ice time.

After a disappointing training camp, Giroux was sent to the Phantoms, with whom he registered 17 goals and 16 assists in 31 games, and regained his confidence.

"I had a lot of stuff to work on, and after a couple of games, I felt comfortable," he said. "I got good coaching there and learned a lot."

Giroux was the Flyers' No. 1 pick (22d overall) in the 2006 draft.

If he makes his mark, a veteran may become expendable. The Flyers will have to free about $2 million in cap space to make room for center Danny Briere when he returns from a groin injury.

Briere, Gagne, winger Scott Hartnell, goalie Marty Biron, and defenseman Kimmo Timonen are the Flyers who have no-trade clauses.

Extra points. Winger Scottie Upshall may return to the lineup tonight after missing three games with a right-knee sprain. Forwards Darroll Powe and Arron Asham are questionable tonight because of lower-body injuries. . . . Stevens on the Ducks: "They are a big, strong team. They play a physical, aggressive style, and they have two of the best defensemen in the world in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. You certainly have to keep them on the radar screen." . . . The earliest Gagne could return is Tuesday in Washington.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.

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