Ryder finally puts it all together for playoffs

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Ryder finally puts it all together for playoffs

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It was refreshing to hear that not even Claude Julien the veritable king of the Michael Ryder Fan Club can explain exactly what flicks the switch on and off for the streaky Bruins winger.

Julien has coached Ryder on four stops along his hockey career: in Quebec Major Junior League hockey with the Hull Olympiques, in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, and in the NHL with both the Canadiens and the Bruins. Ryder has played some of his best hockey under Julien, but, when asked how hes able to get the mostout of the veteran forward, the coach basically threw up his hands.

Well, obviously, I dont all the time, said a smirking Julien. I wish I could.

For now, though, the switch is as on as its been all season. Ryder scored twice, including the game-winner, in the Bruins' Game 4 overtime victory in Montreal, and in Game 5 he turned defensive and made a for-the-ages glove save on Tomas Plekanec with Tim Thomas far from his crease. Thomas authored his own show-stopping piece of goaltending thievery on Brian Gionta in the second overtime, but The Save by Ryder was truly something to behold.

In a strange sense, Ryders willingness to stand up and face a Plekanec shot head on and go right into glove-save mode -- rather than protect his face or body -- is more telling than an entire tape recorder full of 60-minute effort and put-the-biscuit-in-the-basket clichs.

I feel good out there. Confidence is back up and I think playing with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, we have chemistry together now, said Ryder. Were getting more used to each other. This is definitely the time of year where you want to play well and try to do anything you can to make your team win.

The save was the ultimate evidence that Ryder is fully committed, and it showed a focus that too often strays during the regular season.

Michael Ryder is one of those guys that when hes on his game, as you can see, hes a very good player," said Julien. "Saturday, when he made the save, he showed another side of him . . .

"I think hes really feeling good about his game right now. Hes certainly been a pretty good player for us in the last few games. And hes just one of those guys who, believe it or not, can be a difference-maker. Ive seen it in the past and I know that.

He was brought in here as a free agent in 2008-09 to be an addition to our hockey club . . . and he had that first year where he scored the types of goals we thought he would, or the amount he would (27 goals, compared to 18 each in both 2009-10 and 2010-11). Hes had challenges in the last couple of years. But this is a situation where you remember players for how they finish, not how they start. Mike is having a pretty good playoffs so far and hopefully he continues to do that.

The challenge now is to keep up the intensity and maintain that production. Its no coincidence Ryders scoring chances have increased as Kelly and Peverley have started dominating Montreal's struggling defensemen (Hal Gill and P.K. Subban in particular).

Its that production which rewarded Julien for showing faith in Ryder and Kelly while the team struggled to generate offense early in the series.

Thats the bottom line. At the end of the day you have to believe in the lineup that you have," said Julien. "If you feel its the best lineup, there's no need for a change . . . And, again, this is a process of not just one guy but a whole organization . . .

We talk and you have discussions and you share thoughts and at the end of the day you make a decision, and, yes, the final decision probably ends up on my shoulders. But we really felt our hockey club as a whole could play better.

Both Ryder and the hockey club have been playing better for the last three games, and now is the time for both of them to show some of the consistency thats eluded both player and team this season.

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

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.