|Video: Michael Ryder talks about improved power play, big win||10.21.10 at 11:30 pm ET|
Michael Ryder continued his solid start to the season on Thursday night, picking up his second goal of the season and putting the Bruins up 1-0 in the first period. It was the Bruins’ first power play goal in their last 12 chances and it started off a great night for the B’s on the man advantage. Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara added tallies of their power play, and on the night the B’s were 3-for-4.
“Our power play was struggling there, and we wanted to get it going. We worked on it the last few days and I think tonight we did a lot better at getting pucks to the net and creating more. We got three power play goals, so that’s big momentum for us. Hopefully we can just keep it going.”
|Ryder sees last season’s offensive dip as team effort||10.06.10 at 10:33 am ET|
PRAGUE — There’s no hiding how mightily the Bruins struggled in the scoring department in the 2009-10 season. From Blake Wheeler to David Krejci to Michael Ryder, many players saw their point totals take a hit en route to the team finishing with an NHL-worst 2.39 goals per game. After the offseason acquisitions of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin, both of whom scored in Tuesday’s 7-1 victory over Liberec HC, the team appears — on paper, at least — to be in much better offensive standing than their squad of a season ago. Still, if the team is going to get to the Eastern Conference finals after being eliminated in the second round in two consecutive seasons, they’ll need some of their top scorers, like Ryder to return to form.
Last season wasn’t the first sign of a statistical speedbump from Ryder, who throughout his career has seen his numbers go up and down. In fact, almost amazingly, his points have never increased in consecutive seasons. In his six NHL seasons, his totals have been as follows: 63, 55, 58, 3, 53, and 33, the last two of which were with the Bruins. Though certainly accountable for last season, Ryder has hopes that the team can be more productive offensively. Should that happen, Ryder could be a big part of it.
“It was tough here for everyone,” Ryder said of what needs to change this season. “Even though I didn’t score like I wanted to, I was still third on the team. The whole team struggled to score and it was tough. The one thing we want to work on this year is that we want to produce more goals and try and get our offense going and still keep the defense as solid as it was.”
Ryder has been skating on the third line, centered by Tyler Seguin, with Jordan Caron and Daniel Paille the other wing candidates. The line, formerly made up of Ryder, Seguin and Blake Wheeler before Wheeler was moved to the second line, very much has an x-factor intrigue to it, as Ryder could be either the 27-scorer he was two seasons ago or the 18-goal man who drew the criticism of fans last season.
“We’re still getting adjusted,” Ryder said of his chemistry with the second overall pick. “There are little things we need to work on, like trying to get a feel for where each other’s going to be on the ice. I think that comes with practice. The more we practice and get used to each other, it will come and then after that we can get a little more of a feel for each other and make each other better.”
The 30-year-old winger hasn’t jumped off the page through camp so far, with Peter Chiarelli saying in a conference call last week that he didn’t “mind” Ryder’s preseason performance. Even so, Ryder has been commended by many, including Claude Julien, for looking better prepared and stronger at this point of the process than in seasons past.
Ryder identified strength and bulk as areas in which he aimed to improve over the offseason. As a result, he’s up to 197 pounds and taking a mentality of being more focused on being stronger on the puck. With this season being the last of his contract, he’ll be playing for both his contract and proving to the Bruins that sending him and his $4 million cap hit to Providence should be out of the question once Marco Sturm and Marc Savard return from their respective injuries.
|Jacobs: Circumvention, demoting big contracts both costly games||09.29.10 at 4:17 pm ET|
This summer, it came to light that the Bruins were among the teams accused by the league of circumventing the salary cap with the signing of Marc Savard to a seven-year, $28.5 million deal. Though the deal was structured so that the latter years of the deal carried lower salaries and thus brought the overall cap hit down, it does not go past his 40th birthday and seemed to be a far cry from the 17-year Ilya Kovalchuk deal that was rejected before being tinkered with and finally accepted in an agreement that dropped the Savard investigation.
“I think they threw out a wide net and tried to be as inclusive as possible of everyone that they thought had extended contracts,” Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said. “Whether they thought it was fair or not, I don’t know, but I didn’t feel there was any problem with it. If we have to stand scrutiny, that’s what we have to do.
“I think all the contracts have to be looked at that way, and at least from Boston’s standpoint, I think the commissioner made a valued judgement on this and I think clearly the arbitrator agreed on the Kovalchuk one, so he was right there, but fortunately he put an end to it. It was a very expensive situation, though.”
As for how the team will approach deals in the future, even with the NHLPA and the league reaching an agreement to prevent future circumvention, Jacobs noted that there’s still plenty of reason to be cautious with contracts and how they fit within the CBA.
“I think Boston is going to be a lot more sensitive to that,” Jacobs said. “Boston’s going to be very aware of the circumvention areas, and there’s a lot of things that can go into that terminology, circumvention. We’re sensitive to it.”
Jacobs had a few other interesting comments during his media scrum, with the Rangers’ demotion of Wade Redden bringing up the possibility of the Bruins sending a big-money player to the AHL when Marco Sturm and Marc Savard return from long-term injured reserve.
|Michael Ryder expected to return to Bruins||09.13.10 at 12:50 pm ET|
BOLTON — The Bruins and friends teed off for their golf tournament at The International, meaning practically all of the players were available to chat Monday morning in Bolton. Though David Krejci gave WEEI.com some good tips on dealing with cab drivers in Prague, the most interesting player to speak may have been his winger in Michael Ryder.
“I’m anxious to get started this year. Last year was disappointing, especially the way it ended,” Ryder said. “I think especially regular season too I think will be a lot better. There are things we have to improve on this year and hopefully we can do that.”
It’s no secret that Ryder was among the players who took the brunt of criticism when the Bruins offense stalled for the entire season. As a result, and with him entering the final year of a three-year deal, many wondered whether Ryder and his $4 million cap hit would be back this season.
“It happens everywhere you go,” Ryder, who seemed genuinely unfazed by the offseason speculation said. “After the season there’s always going to people talking and saying things [regarding] who should go where, and whatever, but you’ve got to forget about it and concentrate on starting off the season.”
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli rained on the parade of angry fans who wanted Ryder gone when he said early in the offseason that the team would not be buying the final year of Ryder’s deal out. He pointed to an off-year for the winger, who said he “expected to be back” with the team. Ryder admits that coming off a 27-goal season in 2008-09, his 18-goal showing last season was a letdown and he accepts whatever negative chatter comes with it.
“The whole team didn’t score goals last year. We had a hard time putting the puck in the net in the regular season,” Ryder said. “When you’re looked at to score goals and the team’s not scoring, you’re one of the guys that’s under the gun. I kind of accept that and I’ve just got to try to find ways to make that happen.”
Ryder remains a possible victim of the salary cap. The team will be approximately $3.5 million over the $59.4 million mark once Marco Sturm returns from long-term injury status. Asked if he felt he considers each practice and game from here on out an “audition,” Ryder expressed confidence in his role with the Bruins.
“I know I’m still part of this team,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out and prove that I belong here.”
|X-factors: Michael Ryder||08.23.10 at 1:02 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their “X-factor” status entering the season. Michael Ryder is up first.
Who better to kick this series off than a guy who fans wanted gone in the offseason but could end up having a major offensive impact in 2010-11? No, it’s not Marc Savard, but rather right wing Michael Ryder. Given his $4 million cap hit and inconsistency last season, it has been rare to hear Ryder’s name in the past few months without also hearing “trade,” “buyout,” or “Providence.” To the contrary, the likelihood is that Ryder will indeed be with the club when the Bruins begin their season in Prague in just over six weeks.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been known for — in both positive and negative connotations — being a big supporter of Ryder. He spoke to the lack of appreciation and credit the winger has been given when he gave the “Michael just had one bad year” (2007-08) quote during the 2008-09 playoffs. Though he also pointed to him as a guy the team didn’t get enough of at times last season, he still seems to be one of Ryder’s biggest fans.
Though Julien’s fondness of Ryder dates back to their days in Montreal, Bruins fans aren’t quite as loyal to the now 30-year-old, and perhaps for good reason. After a debut season in which he finished second to Phil Kessel in goals with 27 and had 53 points, Ryder’s jersey sales likely took a major hit in the 2009-10 season.
Though the offense as a whole was never as powerful as it was when the team finished second in the NHL in scoring, Ryder was among those who took the brunt of it. The line that looked so good a season before consisting of him and Blake Wheeler with David Krejci in the middle wasn’t so hot the second time around and everybody took notice. Ryder finished the season with just 18 goals and his 33 points put him in a tie for seventh on the league’s worst offensive team. Read the rest of this entry »
|Flyers help Bruins make dubious history||05.14.10 at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary — The Flyers became just the third team in the history of the National Hockey League to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win a seven-game series, in the process coming back from a 3-0 first-period hole to score four straight goals to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-3 win over the Bruins at TD Garden on Friday night.
Tuukka Rask was the loser for Boston, allowing the four Flyers goals on 27 shots. Michael Leighton overcame a shaky first period to put the clamps down on the Bruins season with 25 saves. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner at 12:52 in the third period on the power play after the B’s were whistled for too many men on the ice.
The Bruins struck first (and, for that matter, second and third), jumping to an early lead eight seconds into a power play after Scott Hartnell went to the box for a high sticking call on Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone at 5:18 in the first period. Boston wasted no time, controlling the puck on the face off and getting a couple attempts on Leighton. The second — of the stick of Zdeno Chara — rebounded down to the right dot, where Michael Ryder sent it right back on the crease past a hopping Mark Recchi and the Bruins were off and running at 5:27.
Boston made it 2-0, again on the power play, at 9:02 when a broken rush through the neutral zone ended up in a reset by Dennis Wideman, who decided to take it all the way down the right wing into the corner and send it back towards the crease where Milan Lucic timed his crash perfectly to bang it past Leighton for the two-goal advantage before the first period was halfway over.
Leighton would let in a third straight Boston goal at at 14:10 as Lucic struck again when he turned a giveaway into a lamplighter when he rushed all the way down the right wing and let off a snap shot by the right faceoff dot that went five-hole and made TD Garden erupt.
But the Flyers, remarkably, refused to concede defeat. James Van Riemsdyk fought hard to the right of Rask, leveling Wideman and getting a broken-play dribbler under the net minder’s left pad for a soft goal that made it 3-1 at 17:12 in the first. It was Van Riemsdyk’s first career playoff goal in his second professional season (first in the NHL) coming out of the University of New Hampshire.
The Flyers made it a one-goal game early in the second period on an even strength play where Danny Briere was able to penetrate the Rask’s crease after Ville Leino put the puck deep. Briere did a spin-o-rama and put the puck across the crease, where Andrew Ference could not put a stick on it at the goal line and Scott Hartnell flipped it back over Rask at 2:49.
The comeback was complete when Briere struck on his own, this time with the assist from Hartnell at 8:39 of the second period. Briere came back down around the net and did a wrap-around on Rask that rattled through the net and back out the other side to tie the game at three. The play was reviewed but it was conclusive that Briere had put the puck in the net and Boston had relinquished another 3-0 lead in the series.
Simon Gagne — His Game 4 return from a broken toe made all the difference for the Flyers in this series as he scored his second game-winner of the series to complete the series comeback.
Danny Briere — Perpetual thorn in the Bruins side was instrumental in getting the Flyers back in the game as his goal and assist in the second period were the answer Philadelphia was looking for after it went down 3-0 in the first.
Milan Lucic — Two first period goals got TD Garden pumping as the Boston forward set the stage for the excitement that was to come.
Turning Point – When Briere and Hartnell teamed up to take over in the second period. The pair was able to bring the Flyers back from the brink as the Bruins went soft in front of Rask. The wily center and his large wingman were able to get deep into the crease twice to tie the game and give the Flyers a chance to win it in the third period.
Key Play — The Bruins took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 11:10 of the third period, which set the Flyers up to score the go-ahead goal by Gagne when he found the puck on the right dot in front of Rask for the wrist shot top shelf to bury Boston and its Stanley Cup dreams once and for all.
|Flyers stay alive with Game 4 OT victory||05.07.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers kept their season alive and got a digit in the win column in the Eastern Conference semifinals as they beat Boston 5-4 in overtime of Game 4 at the Wachovia Center on Friday evening. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner in the extra frame to keep Philadelphia’s Stanley Cup hopes alive. Brian Boucher got his first win of the series and stopped Tuukka Rask’s four-game playoff winning streak in the process to force a Game 5 in Boston on Monday.
The Flyers were up by a goal by Ville Leino late in the third period and looked like they would squeak out the win after Boston came back from a two-goal deficit to tie it a three but Mark Recchi scored an empty-net goal with 31.5 seconds left in the game to send it to overtime.
Boston took the early lead for the third time in the four games as Mark Recchi recorded his fifth strike of the playoffs at 15:37 in the first period. The play was set up by strong play from Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille through the netural zone that set up center Patrice Bergeron on a partial break on Boucher. Bergeron got off a weak shot but Boucher had committed on the ice and was forced to deflect the puck back into the slot with his side while laying on his side. Recchi was following Bergeron on the play and flipped it high for the 1-0 advantage.
The Flyers came back on during a 4-on-4 after Scott Hartnell and Vladimir Sobotka went to the box with matching roughing penalties at 18:06 in the first. Defenseman Matt Carle rushed down the left wing and slipped the puck through the high slot to the stick of Claude Giroux who was skating on a parallel line with Danny Briere. Giroux slowed up and tapped the puck to Briere who sent a snap shot on Rask that found its way to the back of the net to tie it at 19:06.
The Flyers took the lead with two goals in the second period, the first time in the series that they have had a two-goal advantage over the Bruins. Chris Pronger scored the first when he took a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off of defenseman Mark Stuart’s skate and zipped passed Rask at 4:28 to make it 2-1. Giroux made it 3-1 when he crashed the net as Scott Hartnell was battling on the elbow of the crease to dislodge the puck from a tie-up against the post. Hartnell was able to kick it through the crease and Giroux slammed it home at 8:35.
Boston got back to within a goal at 10:56. Michael Ryder took a slap shot from the high slot that went wide of Boucher’s net and rebounded off the end wall back to the corner of the crease. Boucher went to cover but Vladimir Sobotka crashed the goalie and hit the glove to dislodge the puck and squirt it through Boucher’s legs to get Boston back with a goal.
The Bruins would tie it back up at three early in the third on the power play. Dennis Wideman took a wrist shot from the left point that he elevated to Milan Lucic’s hip as the forward was camped in the slot in front of Boucher. Lucic got an eek of a tip on the puck to deflect it through the crease at 3:49.
Chris Pronger — Had a goal and a big assist on the game-winner to keep his team playing hockey in the month of May.
Claude Giroux — The sophomore forward helped the Flyers create offense with a goal and an assist to give him nine points through the playoffs.
Mark Recchi — The game-tying goal was simply amazing as the veteran and future Hall of Famer added another chapter to his legacy.
Turning Point – Lucic’s tip was set up by a Flyers penalty to Ville Leino for hooking at 2:59 in the third period. The Flyers had held the Bruins scoreless through their first two power play attempts of the game but Boston was able to settle the puck in its third attempt and cycle it to the point where Wideman could wind up and fire. Lucic was in decent position in the slot and shot the shaft of his stick on it, enough to get it passed Boucher. The goal made the game competitive again until late in the Recchi sent it to overtime.
Key Play – Recchi’s game-tying goal will be one of those moments that goes down in NHL playoff lore. He could have one-timed the shot off the stick of Patrice Bergeron but stopped, held it for a moment, let Boucher get out of position and flipped it top shelf to send the game to an extra frame.
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