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Ducks' Bobby Ryan seeking consistent level of excellence

March 4, 2011 |  1:59 pm

Ryan_400 Bobby Ryan’s overtime penalty shot goal against Detroit on Wednesday did more than boost the Ducks’ spirits and keep them in the pack of teams jostling for playoff spots in the congested Western Conference.

The goal was the 30th this season for the dynamic winger, his third straight season at a level usually reached only by pure scorers. Ryan, who will turn 24 on March 17, is on pace to surpass the career-high 35 goals and 64 points he scored last season. That’s solid progress considering he scored only two goals in 16 games starting Dec. 3 and ending with a two-goal game against Columbus on Jan. 7.

“When you look at a season and set goals beforehand, that’s the point you want to hit. That’s keeping it consistent,” Ryan said after the Ducks’ morning skate in preparation for their game Friday against Dallas at the Honda Center.

“I thought it was a possibility for me a little early out and just tried to continue my pace throughout the year and tried to put up numbers in that regard, but it’s not something I’ll think about now that it’s done and gone. I’ll try and push for 35 or whatever it was that I had last year and try and get continually a little better.”

The record for most consecutive 30-goal seasons is 15, set by Mike Gartner from the 1979-80 season through the 1993-94 season with Washington, Minnesota, New York Rangers and Toronto. The career record for most 30-goal seasons is also held by Gartner, with 17 in 19 seasons.

“I’ve got a long way to go,” Ryan said, smiling.

“It’s not something I’ll think about by any means but I think it’s a fairly consistent number. I’d like to try and hit it every year. I’m playing with some pretty good players so I know the puck’s going to find me and I’m going to get those chances. As long as I continue to shoot the puck the right way and get to the front of the net, I’ll find them.”

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle, who rarely doles out compliments, said Ryan had only begun to make the most of his talents.

“Just the tip of the iceberg. I think Bobby Ryan has the potential to be a 40- to 50-goal scorer every year,” Carlyle said. “I think Bobby Ryan is a young player that in some situations goes stretches where he doesn’t get points [and] it’s because he doesn’t go into that tough area enough at times. Stop in front of the net. How many tip-ins does Bobby Ryan score?”

Not many, though he’s strong enough to battle for rebounds and deflections in traffic in the slot.

“That’s an area that we constantly are trying to sell him on, that those tough areas are where goal scorers get that extra garbage,” Carlyle said. “That’s an extra five or six goals a year. And you start adding those up over the course of the season.

“We’re always after him to stop in front of the net, don’t swing away from that critical area. Get inside. Inside. Develop another aspect of his game. But he’s a great hockey player and we just feel he’s young and still developing and those are areas of improvement.”

Carlyle said Ryan needed to be more consistent but praised the young forward for taking responsibility to become more fit.

“Bobby’s made a huge transformation on the amount of work and how much more attention he pays to nutrition, to diet, to conditioning,” Carlyle said. “Remember, Bobby was almost 230 pounds at one point. He’s 205 pounds now. It’s made a huge difference in his body, and it shows.”

A few more notes about Friday’s game, which could cause some movement in the congested West playoff rankings:

Ducks center Saku Koivu will miss his fifth straight game because of a sore groin, though he said he was hopeful of returning next Wednesday. “It feels good, then it doesn’t,” said Koivu, who skated lightly Friday morning. “I haven’t had a real practice yet.”

For Dallas, which is a point ahead of the Ducks but two places ahead in the standings, center Brad Richards will miss another game because of a concussion. Defenseman Nicklas Grossman (hip) also will not play.

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-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Bobby Ryan celebrates after making a penalty shot against Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard in overtime Wednesday. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press