Ryder scores twice, still plays second fiddle

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Ryder scores twice, still plays second fiddle

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Michael Ryder scores two more huge playoff goals, and allanybody wants to talk about is Tyler Seguin.

Okay, so Seguins two-goal, two-assist, plus-three effortundoubtedly earned him Tuesday nights first star, as the rookie led the Bruinsto a 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 at the TD Garden, eveningthe Eastern Conference Finals at 1-1.

And yes, he and Ryder have had a pretty good connection allseason long. And Ryder probably doesnt have a two-goal night if not forSeguin.

But two goals are two goals. And a game-winner is agame-winner.

Yet, following Bostons Game 2 win, Ryder couldnt escapequestions about Seguin. So much so, that he even showed his sarcastic side 10minutes into his media gathering when asked about the rookies improvements.

Who, he was playing better? Segs? asked Ryder.

He was kidding, of course. Even Ryder knew Seguin deservedall the headlines on Wednesday morning.

But there had to be a small part of him that wanted someoneto realize his two goals were pretty big, too. And that Seguin wasnt the onlyBruins player trying to answer critics in the postseason.

Like Seguin, Ryder knows how it feels to be a healthy scratch in the playoffs.He played in only four of Montreals 12 playoff games during his last seasonwith the Canadiens in 2007-08.

Thats the way it goes, I guess, you know? But I think welearned a lot from that, me and Segs, said Ryder after Tuesday nights win. Iwas there before, and Seguin did a great job. For his first playoffs, this is ahuge two games for him, and its definitely going to give him some confidence.

Other than that, Ryder and Seguin are answering to twodifferent types of critics this postseason.

Many Bruins fans have wanted Seguin dressed since Game 1against Montreal in the first round. Many of those same people wanted Ryder to be theguy watching the game from the ninth floor.

Ryder answered those critics with two goals in a Game 4overtime win over the Canadiens that evened up the series at 2-2, heading backto Boston for Game 5. Ryder scored the game-winner in overtime, and just like that, people were back on board.

Ryder had that opportunity because coach ClaudeJulien believed in him. That didnt seem to be the case with Seguin. It seemedeverybody in Boston wanted to see him dressed, and on the ice.

Not just on oneof the checking lines, but on the power play as well.

Bruins fans got their wish in the first two games of thisseries, mainly because Patrice Bergeron went down with a concussion at the end of thePhiladelphia series.

And make no mistake about it, Seguin proved he belongs inthe Bruins lineup for every game the rest of the way.

But so has Ryder.

I guess in this game, a lot of people always doubt you,said Ryder on Tuesday night. If things arent going well, people always havetheir own opinions. But I knew that I had to have a good playoffs to try andhelp this team. I want to do everything I can. It didnt matter if I wasntscoring. I just trying to do anything I can to help the team.

Ive just been working hard, and trying to create things.And its been working.

Ryder scored his third and fourth goals of the playoffs onTuesday night. His first came with 3:44 left in the second period, and with 49seconds left on a 5-on-4 power play.

Seguin took a low one-timer from the top of the left circle,which Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson saved with his left pad. Ryder wasparked out front, and flipped the rebound upstairs to give the Bruins a 5-3lead.

Thats what we need, to get traffic in front, and get shotsthere, and get those goals, said Ryder. Because those guys on the other team,they block a lot of shots, and they take the front of the net away. We need towork hard and just bang on loose pucks, and get those garbage goals.

Less than four minutes later, Ryder put the Bs up 6-3 withhis second goal of the night, as he found himself on the doorstep again andput home a rebound from a Chris Kelly shot from the high slot.

Seguin also got that play started, as he initially foundKelly in the high slot with a no-look, behind-the-back pass from the corner,picking up his fourth point of the night.

When I went in the corner, I took a quick look and sawKelly there, and I knew there were guys pressuring on me, said Seguin. Ikind of see David Krejci do it all the time, and I just tried to put it through theguys legs. I dont know exactly where it went, but I tried to get it outfront, and Kelly got the puck on net, and Ryder went to the net, which issomething hes doing really well right now.

Ryders been doing a lot well this postseason. And his twogoals on Tuesday night proved to be the difference-makers, since Tampa Bayscored two goals in the third period to cut Bostons lead to 6-5.

This time of year, its a lot of fun to play, said Ryder.This is where you want to be. I think a lot of guys that arent playing rightnow, would love to be in our situation. And weve got to make sure we takeadvantage of it.

Ryder sure is, even though nobody will be talkingabout him on Wednesday morning.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs