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Bish's Blog: April 21st

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
5:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, in Brossard...
Montreal Canadiens head coach Bob Gainey leads a hockey practice in Brossard, Que. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Paul Chiasson)
The Habs skated this morning, and over at HabsInsideOut, Pat Hickey reported:
The odds are stacked against them – only two teams have ever rallied from an 0-3 deficit – but the Canadiens tried to remain upbeat as they prepared for tomorrow night's Game 4 against the Bruins.

Eight players, including defenceman Mike Komisarek  and goalies Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak, took advantage of an optional skate in Brossard while other players worked in the gym. Injured players Andrei Markov and Robert Lang skated prior to the practice but neither looked ready to resume playing. 

Coach Bob Gainey said there was no update on Mathieu Schneider and Alex Tanguay and they are unlikely to play in Game 4. They were scratched from Game 3 with upper-body injuries, 

Gainey said he hadn't decided on a goalie for Game 4 but we're betting that he will continue to hope that Carey Price regains his form

Can't wait for Game 4! JB

5:18 p.m.
Late Update...

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien instructs his players during a hockey practice. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
All of the Bruins skated this afternoon and while Andrew Ference did not skate with the team, he did hit the ice with strength and conditioning guru John Whitesides this morning (for a 20-30 minute, up-tempo twirl).

Beyond Ference skating, there were two highlights of the day:
1.) A veteran Montreal-based reporter marveling at the B's practice and how many of the Black & Gold stayed after the session to work on extra stuff -- Mark Recchi tipping pucks and gathering rebounds of Coach Ward's shots, Patrice Bergeron skating against Coach Houda, and Aaron Ward working with Blake Wheeler (and I think Byron Bitz).
2.) Coach Julien's answer to a terrific question from WEEI's Joe Haggerty...
Joe: (paraphrased) Who are some of the leaders in the room who keep the club even-keeled?
Coach: Well...If I name a few, I am going to forget a few. Honestly, because there's a lot of them. I'd have to go through lists to tell you every one of them, but maybe to answer your question in a different way -- there hasn't been anybody in that room, and I am being honest, that has disappointed me.

9:18 a.m.
New Found Home for Boston's Newf
Boston Bruins' Michael Ryder, right ,celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the second period during Game 3 of an NHL quarterfinals playoff hockey game Monday, April 20, 2009 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Paul Chiasson)
I'm sitting here reading the translation of B's head coach Claude Julien's postgame presser and I am struck by the number of times the B's bench boss has to say -- in two different languages -- that he is not surprised about Michael Ryder's resurgence in the Black & Gold.

"All I am going to say is that, personally, when we signed Michael Ryder – and I said it often, as a matter of fact – it’s the organization that wanted Michael," said Julien to the French media. "For sure, I had coached him and I knew him well.

"But, at the same time, it’s not a coach who will force an organization to sign a player. We were unanimous in our mission to get Michael Ryder.

"When you looked at his statistics, we put too much emphasis on his difficult season of 13, 14 goals, and we forgot to look at his good seasons of 27 and 30 goals. Every athlete has difficult seasons. We knew he could bounce back," he said.

Then Julien added: "What we also liked about Michael is that he fit our style of play."

Herb Zurkowsky, writing for The Montreal Gazette in a piece entitled, Ryder was made for Bruins, nicely summarized the winger's journey: Ryder’s goal, his second of the series, came at 17:21 of the second period and proved to be the winner, giving the visitors a 3-2 lead. Alone in the left-wing circle, he jumped on a Carey Price rebound, depositing the puck behind the netminder before he could regain position.

The Ryder story has been well documented. Selected 216th overall by the Canadiens in 1998, the winger produced seasons of 25, 30 and 30 goals before falling into a quagmire from which he failed to escape.

The 29-year-old slumped to 14 goals last season and...former head coach Guy Carbonneau also thought Ryder was a one-dimensional player; a defensive liability. The player’s ice time was reduced as the season progressed, and he was a healthy scratch for the final two games of the opening playoff series, against Boston.

Signed by the Bruins on July 1 as a free agent...Ryder rebounded nicely, scoring 27 goals along with a plus/minus rating of plus-28.

MONTREAL - APRIL 20: Michael Ryder #73 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his second period goal against the Montreal Canadiens during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 20, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Beyond his statistics, Ryder has been a seamless and popular addition to the locker room.

Called "Newf" in honor of his beloved home in Newfoundland, the gregarious Ryder can often be seen laughing, joking or talking with his teammates. On the ice, even in practice, Ryder has the ability to leave jaws on the floor -- just like he did on Monday night in Montreal.

Ryder's shot was heard 'round Quebec, and sent most of New England to bed on Patriots' Day with pleasant dreams.

"I've kind of, actually, forgotten about what happened last year," said Ryder for the umpteenth time after Game 3. "I put it behind me when I came into Boston earlier in the year.

"These guys...welcomed me pretty good and I felt comfortable right away.

"And this time of year is pretty fun and I'm happy to be a part of helping this team win," he said.

Pressed for some sign of annoyance with his former employer, the classy Ryder did not budge and after a few seconds switched into a comfortable cliche.

"Yah, it's a little different, scoring against your old team, but like I said...we still have one more game to win," said Ryder. "Some funny things can happen."

Yah, funny things like Michael Ryder scoring against Carey Price to put the Boston Bruins up 3-0 going into Wednesday night -- although, I am sure that nobody around these parts gets the joke, and if they do, not too many of them think it's funny.
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