Back in early April, had you asked Bruins coach Claude Julien if Ryder was going to be a pivotal force in the postseason, chances are you would have gotten a "no comment."
Julien knows all about Ryder's game. He has coached him in junior, the AHL and twice in the NHL, first with Montreal and now Boston. Needless to say he knows him well. That's why, despite Ryder having a frustrating season, Julien stuck with him.
But following a 1-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on April 1, Julien called out some of his players who weren't scoring, including Ryder, who had only 18 goals this season after a 27-goal season in 2008-09.
"There's no doubt we have some players who could've been much better for us," Julien said at the time. "And a lot of those players are the players we need to help us get through this. You can't stand here and say, 'We were outstanding.' We just lost [to Florida]. If everyone were as good as they could be, we would have won [that] game. Ryder is probably our best shooter and ends up with zero shots. Those are the things we needed from those players."
Ryder was demoted to third-line duty and obviously was frustrated. He knew what he needed to do, but Ryder just didn't seem to be doing the little things needed to break out of his funk.
But scoring twice in the regular-season finale against Washington proved to be a breakthrough.
"It's like all goal scorers, when you get a couple of goals, you get your confidence back," Julien said. "He scored a couple there in Washington and that seemed to get him going. Also, when he gets going and he gets his confidence, other things get going."
"I find when I get my feet moving to the net and get more physically into the game, things tend to happen for me. That's what I've been trying to do the last few games and it seems to be working. When I hit, I get into the game a little more and things just happen a little different. You get the scoring chances and I just need to make sure I keep doing these things" -- Bruins' winger, Michael Ryder
"Besides the hit on Ference, he had another good hit on a Buffalo player instead," Julien laughed. "So he also gets involved physically and his whole game just kind of picks up from there. He's pretty solid on his skates, he always has been, but just his confidence gets him involved in certain aspects of the game."
Ryder agreed with Julien and can feel his game rounding out right now. The normally even-keeled winger was all smiles Sunday as he discussed his reemergence as a scoring threat.
"I find when I get my feet moving to the net and get more physically into the game, things tend to happen for me," he said. "That's what I've been trying to do the last few games and it seems to be working. When I hit, I get into the game a little more and things just happen a little different. You get the scoring chances and I just need to make sure I keep doing these things."