Bruins reward Ryder with more ice time, and he rewards them with a goal


Bruins reward Ryder with more ice time, and he rewards them with a goal

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- Michael Ryder stood in the Bruins' locker room at the TD Garden after Monday's 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils, in which he scored the first goal of the game, and was asked if his mindset had changed after being moved to a line with Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand.

He looked up, smiled, and came back with a well thought-out answer.

"We have four lines on this team that can play, you know, and playing with Soup and Marchy was a little adjustment," said Ryder.

His response wasn't odd. It was the right thing to say. But approximately 15 minutes later, we found out he had no real reason to be upset with the line change.

He was just being rewarded.

Ryder wasn't ready to throw his former linemates under the bus. He wasn't about to call out Tyler Seguin and Daniel Paille. Because in reality, the swap of Ryder-for-Shawn Thornton was about nothing more than finding Ryder more ice time, something he began to see much less of while on the right wing with Seguin and Paille.

So after back-to-back losses in which the Bruins scored only one goal against Montreal and Ottawa, coach Claude Julien decided to shake things up, for reasons that weren't known until his postgame press conference, minutes after Ryder was peppered with postgame questions of his own.

"What you've got to remember, too, for Michael, is that playing with Seguin and whoever has been on the left wing, Paille and other guys; when you look at their ice time, it hasn't always been to maybe what Ryder has been deserving of," said Julien. "Some way, you try to find him some more ice time. And I think, the more ice time you get, the more you get involved in the game. And I think, putting him on that line, gave him that edge, and with the games we've lost lately, we have to find a little something, and try and tweak our lines here."

It says a lot about Seguin and Paille, who continue to see less and less ice time on a nightly basis. It also says a lot about the contributions that Campbell ("Soup") and Marchand ("Marchy") have made to the team.

But perhaps it says even more about Ryder, a guy who is constantly portrayed as being the first "overpaid" trading chip that should be shipped out of town when it comes time to create salary cap space for the impending returns of Marc Savard and Marco Sturm.

The 4 million winger scored his fifth goal of the season on Monday night. It gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 4:34 left in the first period. The Bruins are now a perfect 7-0-0 when scoring the first goal this season.

So needless to say, it was a big one.

"That was part of our game plan tonight, no doubt," said Julien. "The longer you let the other team in the game, the better chance they have of winning. And that's what teams, that come on the road, want to do. They want to stay in there as long as they can. So it was important for us to grab that lead. We seem to be a team that plays better with the lead, obviously, and seemed to build on it, and protect it well. So it was nice to see us get that first goal."

It was also nice to see Ryder get rewarded. And it didn't come while on his new line. He scored on the power play, a 5-on-3 power play, to be exact. He took a Patrice Bergeron pass to the left side of the net, and sniped, short side, from the goal line, on Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

"I was looking to pass pretty much the whole time," said Ryder. "I was trying to wait for the right spot, and then it kind of didn't open up, and I looked over and saw Brodeur cheating a little bit, so I just threw it short side on him, and I caught him moving to the left."

Ryder had gone four games without a goal prior to Monday night's win and it was thought Julien wanted more offense, especially in David Krejci's absence. Seeing Ryder's line change at Sunday's practice led to the belief Julien was trying to give Seguin and Paille an offensive boost by adding the energetic Thornton and subtracting Ryder.

It's just the natural reaction when one sees Ryder get bounced down to what was dubbed, unofficially at least, as the Bruins' "fourth line."


Julien has never put a number on one of his lines. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to see Ryder's move as an upgrade in Julien's eyes.

Seguin's line has seen its ice time take a hit. Julien wanted to play Ryder more. He feels he's deserved it.

"He's competing hard, and he comes to play every night," said the Bruins' coach after Monday's win. "He's scored some big goals for us. He's made some big plays, too. You look at some of the assists he's got. They've been some pretty good passes for goals.

"He's into it, there's no doubt," added Julien. "He's confident right now. I guess he's playing on, probably, more confidence than he did at this time last year."
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks


Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.

3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems


Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.