Boston Bruins

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

Czarnik trying not to be 'the forgotten man' in Bruins camp

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Czarnik trying not to be 'the forgotten man' in Bruins camp

BOSTON – With all of the talk about young forward prospects Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk, it would seem that Austin Czarnik wants to serve a reminder that he can play a little hockey too.

For the second year in a row, the 24-year-old diminutive forward is putting together a strong start to his training camp with a multi-point performance in a 4-2 exhibition victory over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Czarnik finished with a penalty-shot goal, two points and tied for the team-lead with four shots on net while playing with the energy, skating aggressiveness and in-your-face attitude that he’s going to need for NHL success. He also made his point that there are more than just a couple of young forwards in camp who can potentially help in Boston this winter.

“He was very good. I think the forgotten man, maybe, he was thinking [a bit] because we’ve talked about a lot of young guys. He’s still a young guy, and wants to make his mark and push for a job on the team,” coach Bruce Cassidy said of Czarnik, who posted five goals and 13 points in 49 games for the Bruins last season. “I thought he looked real good tonight. He won a lot of pucks. He’s always going to make plays in space, that’s his game. He won a lot of pucks and did a lot of little things well.”

It was Czarnik who really helped put the game away in the second period when he sped past a pair of defenders and forced them into hauling him down for a penalty shot with the B’s already up, 2-0. Czarnik patiently slowed his penalty-shot attempt before ripping one past Petr Mrazek’s glove hand in what ended up being the game-winning goal. Czarnik was in the middle of things again in the third on the insurance marker as he engineered a 3-on-1 rush before expertly feeding to Teddy Purcell for the sizzled one-timer.

Czarnik was downplaying the idea that he’s been overlooked in camp but show there was a strong need to remind the B’s organization how he can potentially help them as a fast, aggressive, pesky little center that can also make some plays.

“I’m not going to worry about [getting overlooked]. It’s part of life, you know it’s happened a lot? I’m not going to worry about that,” said Czarnik, who similarly won a job with the Bruins after a strong initial training camp last season. I’m just going to worry about myself and just try to do the right thing every single time and show them what I can do.

“I need to be an energy guy. There’s a lot of young talent now, you know, on the power play and everything now, so I need to try to create energy on the penalty kill and the fore-check. So that’s what my main focus is going to be.”

The energy really is the key to Czarnik’s long-term hopes with the Bruins and, consequently, the rest of the NHL. If he can play with the same skating legs, high energy and rapid pace that he’s consistently shown in preseasons, then there’s no reason to think he can’t help the Bruins. But there were far too many lulls in Czarnik’s rookie NHL season where the skating game wasn’t good enough, there wasn’t enough bite to his fore-check and there just weren’t enough plays being made on the ice.

Clearly, Czarnik is trying to change that impression in this camp with the B’s, but that could prove to be a much more difficult task with so many more quality forwards now battling for a few jobs on the roster in Boston. 

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Morning Skate: Sorry, Shaughnessy but young B's are on the rise

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Morning Skate: Sorry, Shaughnessy but young B's are on the rise

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating that Brad Marchand is willing to say something is “an absolute joke.” There are not enough candid players in the NHL like good, ol' No. 63.

*So FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Bruins are “a lowly number four nowadays” in the power rankings of the big four Boston sports teams. Certainly, Danny is technically correct in saying that the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics are ahead of the Bruins in terms of the Boston pro sports zeitgeist and that they dominate the sports conversation.

But Shaughnessy points to the Bruins doing nothing to improve themselves last summer as some kind of reason behind their low position among the other Boston sports franchises, and that’s not really a factor. The problem right now is that the Bruins are extremely young and still a couple of years away from returning to true Stanley Cup contention as a result. 
Once Charlie McAvoy is a few years into his career, some of the other Bruins prospects are in the NHL for good and Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask are still at the back end of their prime, the Bruins will once again be a Cup contender that’s pushing their way back into the championship conversation that commands the attention of the Boston fan.

Would Shaughnessy have been more satisfied with the Bruins if they spent bad money on a big free-agent contract as they did with Matt Beleskey and David Backes in back-to-back years, or if they traded premium prospect Brandon Carlo for hired gun Matt Duchene? That would be the kind of “big splash” move that a bad management group would make to appease the casual fans that don’t truly understand what the B’s are going with their draft-and-development plan.

This Bruins outfit is still a playoff team while they’re building back to that Cup-worthy level. They were playing a much more exciting, entertaining brand of hockey once Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien last winter. This isn’t a lowly team unworthy of the fans’ attention, or more importantly their sports dollar. This is much more about the all-time greatness of the New England Patriots, the deserved excitement for a Celtics team that is truly going for it after being in the Bruins current “building it back up” phase for the past few years and a playoff-level Red Sox team that really has no competition in the summertime.

This isn’t about what the Bruins aren’t doing right now. This is about what the Patriots and Celtics, and to a lesser degree the Red Sox, are doing right now. It's as simple as that in a local sports landscape that’s cyclical and constantly in motion.  

*What a great Facetime hit here from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ray Ferraro with Jay and Dan now that they’re thankfully back to their rightful home in Canada. The technical difficulties really make the whole thing come together.  

*Congrats to Jonathan Drouin for making a commitment to the city of Montreal that goes well beyond being a player for the Canadiens.

*Lots of prayers and well-wishes to Hingham, Mass., native and New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle after his stunning cancer diagnosis. Anybody that knows the Boyle family knows how courageous they are, and how much love and support that Brian will have at a time when he’s going to need every bit of it. I also included a link to a New York Post Q&A with Boyle where he talks a bit about his father’s miraculous battle with cancer as well.   

 *John Chayka is trying to bring with him a new chapter to the history of the Arizona Coyotes, but it’s seemingly always an uphill battle there.

*Nobody should have any problems with the contract extension handed out to Mikko Koivu by the Minnesota Wild.

*For something completely different: Are we seriously living in a world where the Juggalos are marching for their rights?

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