Bruins

Haggerty on Ryder: From 'luggage to hero'

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Haggerty on Ryder: From 'luggage to hero'

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

MONTREAL Three days ago he was being called Newfoundland luggage. But today Michael Ryder can shed the baggage and stand tall after coming through for a Bruins team in need.

Ryder has made a habit of doing that during the playoffs with Boston, and hes got 11 postseason goals in three playoff seasons.

The Bs right winger was held silent in the first three games of the seven game playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, but Ryder's bookend goal explosion included the overtime game-winner for Boston in an epic 5-4 victory at the Bell Centre.

After we got down 3-1 we just regrouped a little bit, and we managed to get back to our game. We tied it up and kept pushing it from there, said Ryder, who notched his fourth career multigoal game in the playoffs on Thursday night. Its pretty exciting to score, but Im just happy that we won the game. It shows that in playoff-time you never quit. That was a big character win for our team.

I knew I was working hard. Even though I wasnt generating much from it, coach Claude Julien had a confidence in our line and it shows. Sometimes its about showing people that I can still play, and that Ive still got it.

The come-from-behind win most importantly evened up the playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens at 2-2, but also managed to illustrate Julien pushing all the perfect buttons to make the victory happen.

The Bs coach eschewed all suggestions he shake things up when things appeared to be at their worst and refused to make big lineup changes prior to the two games in Montreal. Instead, Julien stuck it out with proven playoff performers and criticism magnets like Ryder and Chris Kelly. Both maligned forwards came through with three points apiece.

Jaws could be heard dropping all over New England as Ryder, Kelly and linemate Rich Peverley alternated making plays during the final 42 minutes of Game 4, and essentially outplayed the more hyped trio of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.

It was the kind of game that can tease everyone into thinking Ryder is capable of more than hes shown over his last two NHL seasons, but a couple of goals can also be a harbinger of an upcoming hot streak for Ryder. It was also the kind of team victory that shows something, but they had the Bruins having plenty of guts and real live cojones when it matters.

The first Ryder surprise strike came just minutes into the second period after the Bruins had been outplayed badly in the first 20 minutes, and was vintage Ryder with a quick snap shot over Carey Prices glove hand. That gave Boston life when they were wandering around the feverish Bell Centre without a spark, but the Canadiens answered right back with two more goals on defensive breakdowns.

A Shawn Thornton giveaway turned into a Mike Cammalleri score when Bostons fourth line was stuck out on the ice against Montreals best, and the Habs called again 55 seconds later with an Andrei Kostitsyn goal that made it a 3-1 lead for Montreal.

Thats when Julien put his second imprint on the games design. The Bs coach rarely calls a timeout in the first two periods of a hockey game, but he did on this day when Montreal had scored a pair of quick goals and looked ready to run the Bruins right out of the Bell Centre.

Highly predictable Julien became a little less easy to pin down when he threw out the hockey coaching manual, and simply went by feel.

It was good to let us take a deep breath, said Andrew Ference. Guys did a lot better job . . . where we learned our lesson after the first couple of games where they got the first goal. It was almost like we were reeling. It happened a few times tonight where they went ahead, but this a much different feeling on the bench. It was a different feeling in the locker room. It was nice when you look around and see in guys eyes that theyve learned lessons from things that happened before.

Montreal forwards Scott Gomez and Kostitsyn were both spotted giggling and laughing like hyenas on the Montreal bench while staked to a 3-1 lead in the middle of the second period, and message seemed to be clear that some of the Habs players thought the game was all over.

Instead the Bs outshot the Canadiens by a 23-9 margin for the rest of regulation and overtime, and Julien masterfully picked the right time to settle his players back into a game that had must win written all over it. The Bs coach also recognized that things werent working with the defensive pairings, and he finally made the correct call to yank way back on Tomas Kaberles ice time while placing him in a bottom-six role with Adam McQuaid.

Hes part of this team, and Julien has as good a read as anybody on the character of guys on thus team, said Ference. Thats job. Hes our coach and he knows us batter than anybody else.

The coaching decisions and technique have certainly come under a degree of scrutiny with playoff lives on the line, but theyve also been making good personnel and strategy decisions all over the ice. Doug Houda works with the defensive pairings, and along with Julien both have encouraged the proper perspective of putting together a group of defensemen pairings that shine with experience and offensive ability. Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara are chocking well over a combined 30 minutes in the last couple of games, and its translated into needed playoff victories.

I dont know if its about character as much as its about guys controlling their emotions and going out and having a solid shift even if theyre down after the other team has scored on them, said Ference.

The Bruins proved they could do that in one of the most difficult arenas to play on the planet. With the win, the players in the Bruins' locker room knew not only that they are characters, but that they have character, too.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

NHL Power Rankings: Bubble starting to burst for Cinderella teams

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NHL Power Rankings: Bubble starting to burst for Cinderella teams

The bubble is beginning to burst for some of the Cinderella teams out of the starting gate around the NHL. The Kings have lost four games in a row and look like the offense is again becoming a problem, the Rangers are back to losing after an extended winning streak, and both the Flyers and Stars have dropped three games in a row after decent starts to their seasons amid low expectations.

There are still a few other teams like the New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights, among others, that are bucking expectations and defying convention thus far. It will take a bit more sustained success before people are truly ready to buy in on them this season. Until that happens they remain a nice little story among the true contenders vying for league dominance.  

Anyway, without further ado here are this week’s preseason power rankings:

1.  Tampa Bay Lightning (regular season record: 15-2-2, rank last week: 2) – The Bolts are on another five-game winning streak, and continue to serve notice that they were the sorta new, sorta old sheriff in the Eastern Conference. First in the NHL in goals scored, second in goals against and second in power play is some pretty amazing performance.

2.  St. Louis Blues (14-5-1, rank last week: 1) – Brayden Schenn and Jordan Schwartz are the top two scorers for a Blues team that’s fought their way to the top of the Central Division. While that’s a great story in St. Louis, it does raise questions about how long they can sustain that over the course of a full hockey season.

3.  Winnipeg Jets (11-4-3, rank last week: 5) – Three wins in a row and one regulation loss in the last 10 games for a Jets team that seems to finally be getting it. Mark Schiefele has really become a difference-maker in Winnipeg.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (13-7-0, rank last week: 6) – The Maple Leafs have won five games in a row without Auston Matthews, which is a pretty impressive feat for such a young group. It does appear like it could also be a season of streaks for a Toronto club that’s shown both extremes already this season.

5. New Jersey Devils (11-4-3, rank last week: 7) – The New Jersey home for wayward Bruins has been pretty good thus far with both Drew Stafford and Jimmy Hayes making the most of their next opportunity after varying degrees of success in Boston… very varying.

6. Los Angeles Kings (11-6-2, rank last week: 3) – The Kings have hit a bit of a wall with four losses in a row where they’ve scored a grand total of six goals while looking much more like last season’s bunch of Kings. Jonathan Quick will keep them in those games now that he’s healthy again, but you’re not going to win if you can’t score.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets (12-7-1, rank last week: 8) – The Blue Jackets have bounced back from four losses in a row to win three games in a row where they needed to grind it out with an on-his-game Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s pretty much how it’s going to go for Columbus.   

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-7-3, rank last week: 4) – Phil Kessel is leading the Penguins in scoring and Sidney Crosby has been merely okay offensively (six goals in 21 games) with a minus-12 on the season. Has the whole world of the Penguins turned upside down or what?

9. Vegas Golden Knights (11-6-1, rank last week: 9) – The long goaltending nightmare is over for Vegas as it appears that Malcolm Subban is approaching a return to the lineup. Credit to the Golden Knights for holding things together while the injuries played out, and continuing to defy the odds of what they could do this season.   

10. Nashville Predators (10-6-2, rank last week: 10) – The Predators are 5-1-1 in Music City and once again making that a tough place to play for opponents. Certainly the sight of PK Subban in a cowboy hat during pregame warm-ups is sign that the Predators players are fully buying into what’s going on in Nashville, and that makes them a very formidable opponent.

11.   New York Islanders (10-6-2, rank last week: 11) – The Isles have won a couple of games in a row and appear to have hit their stride while slowly moving up the Metro Division ranks. That they’ve done with so-so seasons for Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd certainly says plenty about other guys stepping up.  

12. Ottawa Senators (8-4-5, rank last week: 13) – Nobody has played fewer games in the NHL than the Senators, and they are just outside a playoff spot after adding Matt Duchene to their lineup. I’d say things are looking pretty good for Ottawa and where they’re set up at this point in the season.

13. San Jose Sharks (10-7-0, rank last week: 20) – The Sharks are the best defensive team in the NHL, and have the second-best penalty kill in the league this season. That’s certainly a change from the past for the Sharks, but they remain, as ever, in the hunt for the playoffs.

14. Detroit Red Wings (10-8-2, rank last week: 19) – It’s less than a week before Thanksgiving and the Red Wings are in a playoff spot. It’s a big question if they can sustain what they’ve built up this far and they do have three or four games on much of their Atlantic Division competition, but they are in a better spot than anybody could have imagined at this point.

15. Minnesota Wild (9-7-2, rank last week: 26) – The Wild have won four games in a row as Devan Dubnyk is starting to get his stuff together, and are once again in the mix in the Central Division as they seemingly always have been over the recent past.

16. Chicago Blackhawks (9-8-2, rank last week: 24) – The Blackhawks have been jolted back to life by rookie Alex DeBrincat pumping up the offense to support the longtime veteran core. They’ve won two of their last three games and scored 15 goals in those three games as well.

17. Calgary Flames (10-8-0, rank last week: 12) – The Flames have won five of their last seven games, but also gave up eight goals to the Red Wings in their last loss. Jaromir Jagr has been pretty okay since getting healthy for the Flames, so the legend keeps on growing.

18. Washington Capitals (10-9-1, rank last week: 18) – The Capitals are 24th in the NHL in goals against and Braden Holtby has been pretty ordinary for the Capitals this season. It sure feels like they’ve lost a little something defensively this season, which doesn’t bode well for their Cup chances.

19.  Vancouver Canucks (9-8-2, rank last week: 15) – All three of their leading scorers are young, talented forwards, so at least the Canucks have that going for them…which is nice. But the Sedins have five goals and a combined 15 points in 38 games, and it appears the end may be nearing for the Swedish twins.

20.  Colorado Avalanche (9-7-1, rank last week: 21) – It feels like Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon have both played much better since the Matt Duchene train left the station. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but it doesn’t feel like it for whatever reason.

21. Philadelphia Flyers (8-6-0, rank last week: 14) – The Flyers have scored a grand total of one goal in their last three games, which is also a three-game losing streak for the Broad Street Bullies. Who would have guessed that offense would be a major issue for this group?

22. Anaheim Ducks (8-7-3, rank last week: 17) – The Ducks have points in four of their last five games, and finally seem to be pulling things together a month into the season. This isn’t the same team that was a Western Conference powerhouse a couple of years ago, but they can still be a heavy, formidable foe on any given night.

23. New York Rangers (9-9-2, rank last week: 16) – The bad news for the Rangers is that the six-game winning streak is in the rearview mirror. The good news is that Rick Nash seems to have found his game, and is producing offense for a Blueshirts group that needs everything they can get.

24. Boston Bruins (7-7-4, rank last week: 23) – The Bruins, through injuries and major inexperience, are slowly sliding down into oblivion before Thanksgiving, and are going to need to find some things to hang their hat on if they want to survive the month of November.  

25. Dallas Stars (9-9-1, rank last week: 22) – The Stars are 2-4-1 in the month of November, and have been outscored 24-7 in the losses this month. It really feels like there is a compete problem in Big ‘D’ where they shouldn’t be getting dominated like that from a talent standpoint.

26. Montreal Canadiens (8-10-2, rank last week: 25) – While it’s good that Charlie Lindgren has stepped up and been pretty good for the Habs in an emergency-type situation, it’s an absolute disaster that Carey Price is banged up again for Montreal. This is a season where everything that could go wrong pretty much has for the Habs.

27. Carolina Hurricanes (7-6-4, rank last week: 27) – The Hurricanes have taken seven of their last 10 points, but it’s not really making much of a dent in the Metro Division. The one truly encouraging sign has been some very good goaltending from Scott Darling and Cam Ward.

28. Edmonton Oilers (7-10-2, rank last week: 28) – The Oilers seemed like they might be pulling out of their early-season funk, but then lost four of their last five games to stick close to the Pacific Division basement. It’s been a rough start for Cam Talbot, and that’s been one of the big differences for the Oil.   

29. Florida Panthers (7-9-2, rank last week: 30) – You have to wonder where the Panthers would be if they hadn’t brought in a player like Evgenii Dadonov, who has been one of the best offensive players on the team this year. That’s a nice win for Florida’s management group to get him back in the fold this season.

30. Buffalo Sabres (5-10-4, rank last week: 29) – So many sticks to break for Jack Eichel, so little time.

31. Arizona Coyotes (3-15-3, rank last week: 31) – The Coyotes have gone 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. That is considered a major roll for them, so they have to be getting pretty excited out in the desert.

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Bruins will play Blackhawks in 2019 NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame

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Bruins will play Blackhawks in 2019 NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame

The Bruins will once again be taking things outdoors and participating in their third Winter Classic in franchise history, but for the first time they won’t be hosting the NHL’s centerpiece event. The B’s announced on Saturday afternoon that they’ll be facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2019 Winter Classic that will be played at iconic Notre Dame Stadium. Both the Bruins and Blackhawks aren’t exactly strangers to the outdoor showcase, and per usual the Black and Gold are happy to be part of a big deal event for the league.

“The Boston Bruins are excited to be playing in the 2019 Bridgestone Winter Classic against another storied Original Six franchise, the Chicago Blackhawks,” said Bruins President Cam Neely, in a press release. “The rich history of Notre Dame Stadium is well documented, and our team looks forward to playing at such an iconic venue. We hope that by participating in these large scale and unique NHL events we can bring Bruins fans new hockey experiences, and that we can use these opportunities to help grow our great game and attract new fans.”

There will be some natural storylines for the game including the rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final participants, and a return to Notre Dame for Fighting Irish forward Anders Bjork after playing three seasons in South Bend. The Bruins/Blackhawks Winter Classic matchup was first reported by Barstool Sports almost two weeks ago, but it wasn’t until Saturday that any of the officials involved were ready to confirm the game.

The Bruins will be in their third Winter Classic after hosting the Jan. 1 outdoor game at Fenway Park in 2010 in an overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and at Gillette Stadium in 2016 in a blowout loss to the Montreal Canadiens.  It is a league-most fourth Winter Classic appearance for the Blackhawks, who hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in 2009, took on the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in 2015, and most recently played the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium in 2017.