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

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats