Ryan Ellis Emerges as a Standout Defensemen for the Nashville Predators

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CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the first period during game 2 of the first round of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators on April 15, 2017, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Since the Stanley Cup Playoffs began, the Nashville Predators have been on roll including 26 year old Ryan Ellis. This roll tarted by dispatching the perennial cup favourites in the Chicago Blackhawks in four games. They currently hold a 3-1 series lead over another central division revival, the St. Louis Blues. This success has come about for numerous reasons including stellar goaltending, defense, and can even be attributed to the emergence of Ryan Ellis.

Ryan Ellis Emerges as a Standout Defensemen for the Nashville Predators

During the 2016-2017, it was clear that Ellis was making his presence felt in the league. This season was the best of his career which saw him set a number of career highs. This includes setting career highs in goals, points, and plus minus to name a few. With this in mind, it would still have been hard to predict that Ellis would be a huge part this postseason. After all, before this season, Ellis had only played in 23 post-season games. None the less, Ellis has clearly emerged a dominant blue liner since the middle of April. The 26 year undersized, Canadian born Predators has definitely come about since then, turning heads and asserting himself as a top defensemen in both the offensive and defensive zone this post season.

Offensive Outburst

When you think of Nashville Predators defensive core, you would assume that either P.K. Subban or Roman Josi would be leading the offensive charge. However, this post season you would be wrong. Since April 13th, Ryan Ellis has been on an offensive tear for the Nashville Predator and ultimately has emerged as the Predators offensive force. In eight post season games thus far, Ellis has recorded 9 points. These numbers make Ellis the highest scoring defensemen on the team, but he is also the team leader in points. And not to be overlooked is that more impressively Ellis is in the top 10 in playoff scoring and leads all defensemen.

So how is Ellis putting up these crazy post season high numbers? Well to start, Ellis isn’t just recording points of off assists but he is filling the back of the net as well. Out of the nine points he has recorded, four have been goals. This ability to find twine throughout the post season points to the fact that Ellis has great offensive instincts and that he knows when and how to get pucks to the net. Ellis’s offensive instincts can be seen on two of his four goals this post season.

In game four against the Blue’s, Ellis scores the first goal of the game while showing that he understands when to take offensive chances. The puck is scrambling in front of the next and Ellis ultimately reads the play and thinks offensive to bury the loose puck.  Not to be forgotten is that this goal stretched Ellis’s playoff point scoring streak to 7, the first D man to  do it since Chris Pronger.

Calculated Shooting

Furthermore, Ellis isn’t simply firing pucks to the net but he is calculated in his offensive approach. This is evident based on Ellis’s shooting percentage which is quite high at 22%. In addition to picking his spots on when to shoot, Ellis has been using his quick release to get pucks through screens without having them blocked. This is has allowed constantly light the lamp for the Predators this post season. In fact, he leads the team in goals in these playoffs.

From his ability to score and his overall numbers, it is clear that Ellis has emerged as a Offensive threat but what is more impressive is how much of an impact that has had on his team. With nine points, Ellis has been apart of 37% on the Predators 24 goals. An impressive number to say the least.

After the Predators game four victory on Tuesday night, Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette had high praise for Ellis, “At both ends of the ice, be does everything for. He plays terrific defense, he sacrifices the body all the time and blocks shots and just really strong, strong defensive player for us,” said Laviolette. “And then offensively, he’s on a little bit of a roll right now, playing terrific in the offensive zone. He’s getting the shot off? He’s getting it on net, and it’s finding the back of the net, a 200-foot game.”

Defensive Superiority

As mentioned by Peter Laviolette, Ellis has emerged this post season and has cemented himself as an elite 200 foot player. Heading into the post season, Ellis was averaging just under 23 minutes of ice time and game and he has continued to log these heavy minutes against tough competition into the post season. What is extremely impressive about these minutes for Ellis is that he is logging a majority of the Nashville Predators short handed minutes. So far this post season, Ellis has averaged about 2:19 seconds of short handed ice time per game. This means he is averaging more short handed ice time than anyone else on his team. Not to mention, Ellis has also emerged as a top defensive player by sacrificing the body a team high 27 times. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win and this high compete level in the did ensure zone has shown that isn’t afraid to go up against anyone. This compete level is impressive and has also contributed to a plus five rating.

Conclusion

With both offensive and defensive numbers like this, it is clear that Ellis has found his place as an emerging star in the National Hockey League. The Nashville Predators most certainty must be impressed with their 2009, 11th overall selection. Moving forward, Ellis will have to continue to play a 200-foot game to help his team find success throughout the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No matter how far the Predators advanced, It is clear that Ryan Ellis has emerged as a top defensemen.

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