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

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.

 

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

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But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.