| By Kyle Harland
Just because he’s not a Duck anymore doesn’t mean he can’t fly.
Yes, speed is probably the first thing you’ll notice about Ryan Shannon. But tonight he demonstrated that he can do more than just skate.
The speedy forward was one of the Canucks’ few bright spots in a disappointing 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks, notching an assist, five shots, and playing more than 16 minutes in Vancouver’s first pre-season game of the year.
Coming into the contest, Shannon had a few things on his mind. He was pitted against his old team. He was playing in his first game situation as a Canuck. And he was even playing the point on the power play.
“There were a lot of nerves coming into the game,” said Shannon, “but I settled down.”
And the coach took notice. “For me, for a first-time look during a game, I liked what I saw,” said Alain Vigneault. “I thought he saw the ice well. He gets his shots through and he protects the puck well.”
With only a handful of last year’s Canucks suiting up for tonight’s game, it was a chance for the new players like Shannon to prove themselves – and he certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
Not that it was easy. One of his responsibilities included playing the point on the power play, something he wasn’t exactly used to.
“I played [the point] in college,” said Shannon. “It was a new experience in the NHL. It’s a lot faster.” Despite his relative inexperience in the position, he played well – but made sure to credit his good company. “It’s easy to play with the Sedins, and Bieksa on my right. It’s easy to make the first pass, make plays.”
But Shannon made plays at even-strength, too. He was the man behind the Canucks’ first goal, feeding the puck into the slot for Nathan McIver to bury in the second period.
Shannon played in all situations tonight – short-handed, power-play, and even strength – for a total of 16:07 of ice time. And having such a big role at the NHL level isn’t something that he’s familiar with. Last year, in the regular season with Anaheim, he didn’t crack the 16-minute mark once.
And even though he played the Canucks five times in the 2007 playoffs when he was with the Ducks, he’s wasn’t exactly a well-known player during the series, as he averaged about four minutes per game.
Sure, it’s different in the pre-season. The players further down in the depth chart are given a bigger role than they might normally get. But the good news for Shannon is that he showed everyone he can handle that bigger role – and handle it well.
“I liked what Ryan did for us five-on-five, and I liked what he did on the point on the power play,” said Vigneault. “He’s going to get a chance to play some more."
“I thought he was okay tonight but you can see a lot of upside. He protects the puck real well, he’s got good speed, got a chance to play on the power-play tonight but there’s definitely something there. We have to remember he’s just a young man and he needs some growing time and some playing time. We will give him that.” - Alain Vigneault
“The first period there were a lot of jitters and I had a lot of nerves coming into the game, but I settled down and had fun,” - Ryan Shannon