If you’re the Boston Bruins, losing the sixth of your last seven games played, there can’t be much to be hopeful about, right? I mean, you’re coming off a 3-2 loss to 27th ranked team in the NHL; second-to-last in the Western Conference; and last in the Central Division. Their goaltender – who just so happened to win the 2008-09 Calder Memorial Trophy as well as being a Vezina candidate – hasn’t won a game since Dec. 28, 2009, and had allowed 15 goals-against in his previous three starts.
To make matters worse; your ever-struggling defenseman whom wears No. 6 can’t catch a break, and gets booed by the hometown crowd every time he touches the puck. Further, with the game tied at two, a phantom double-minor high-sticking penalty with 1:31 remaining is called against you, which directly results in the game-winning goal as you walk away with zero points in the standings to account for.
You got hosed. What good comes out of game like this?
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this could be the time where the $12MM Michael Ryder begins to turn the corner and starts to heat-up.
Ryder lit the lamp for his 12th goal of the season, through 49 games, and his second in three games. With the slew of injuries or not, No. 73 has been looked upon as “the” guy to keep the Bruins afloat on the offensive side.
“Yeah, I was one of the guys that would be looking at the score… and we’re having a rough time scoring and you put that on yourself sometimes.” Ryder said after Thursday’s 3-2 loss. “I think with guys injured and that, I have to play better and tonight, we did a lot of things, and I think personally, I just got to make sure I keep with the pattern and compete every night and things will look up.”
With Marc Savard, Byron Bitz, Marco Sturm, and Steve Begin still out of the Bruins lineup with their respective injuries, head coach Claude Julien once again shuffled the deck and rearranged the lines. Last night, one of the most productive of the new lines was the trio of Miroslav Satan, Trent Whitfield, and Ryder. The third-line accounted for eight of the Bruins 34 shots on goal, and totaled one goal, two assists, and a plus-2 rating.
The 29-year-old Ryder now has a scoring line of 2-1-3, plus-1, and 13 shots on goal in his last five games – his confidence seems to be growing by the day.
“I think a lot of it was, again, the individuals that were on that line just work so hard and they made things happen.” coach Julien said after last night’s contest. “Michael was probably the best we’ve seen him in a long time and Whits made that first goal happen obviously with his second effort, and Satan’s been pretty involved. I think even along the boards and everywhere else, trying to be strong on the puck. So that line was a nice surprise for us tonight.”
Ryder and Whitfield, especially, seemed to have developed quite a bit of chemistry in their first game together. It started with the first goal of the game at just 2:11 of the first period and continued throughout.
“Whit’s done a great job since he’s been up here, and Miro’s done a good job since he’s been up here too and I think we worked well with each other tonight and we had a lot of chances” Ryder said of his newly acquainted line-mates. “We had the first goal there in the game and I think we’ve done a lot of good things defensively as well… so it’s our first game together and we’ll see what happens.”
Although it was their first game together, Whitfield notched his first assist and point of his 12-game NHL season. With their chemistry, confidence, and work in progress, the trio should be united for the next game – barring any more injuries.
“I thought it was good – we kept it simple, got pucks in deep and behind their D.We had some success down there especially early” Whitfield added. “I thought we worked well together tonight. I thought we had some good opportunities and I thought we could have had a couple more. But it’s a work in progress. Hopefully if we stick together we can continue that.”