Atlanta, GA --
|ATLANTA - DECEMBER 28: Michael Ryder #73 of the Boston Bruins scores the game-winning goal late in the 3rd period against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on December 28, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images) |
Last summer, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was roundly criticized for his signing of former Montreal Canadien forward Michael Ryder to a lucrative, multi-year deal.
“I know in some circles we’ve been criticized for paying the money we paid to Michael,” wrote Chiarelli on BostonBruins.com. “We saw him on numerous occasions (he being in the same division as us), and I’ve seen him on a number of occasions prior to that with Ottawa.
“He’s a player that we made an organizational decision on to bring into our mix...At the end of the day, as a management team, we’re judged on these decisions and we’ll be judged on this one.
"We were and are excited to get Michael, as he’s a young player who can score goals and competes hard. We feel he’s really going to fit into our mix, and we’re going to have some success with him,” he wrote.
Nobody is criticizing Chiarelli right now.
Sunday night, Ryder scored his NHL-best seventh game-winning goal of the season against the Atlanta Thrashers to help the Bruins to their eighth straight victory.
“I think what we are seeing right now is the real Michael Ryder,” said B’s head coach Claude Julien. “I mean he’s scored thirty goals almost every year – except for last year – and we said that from day one.
“Last year was definitely a tough year for me. And this year I wanted to make sure that I come out and work hard to get my game back to where I knew I could play." - Michael Ryder
“Everyone was talking about that one year but they’re not talking about the other eight he’s had since junior hockey.”
Julien, who has coached Ryder in juniors, the AHL and previously in the NHL, knows his longtime student is right back at the top of his class.
“The thing I liked about the way he scored tonight was that he went to the net hard,” said Julien of Ryder's goal on Sunday. “He got a penalty that I thought was questionable [doing that] when he got pushed into the net, but it just means he’s putting his nose in those dirty areas and he’s getting rewarded for it and he’s scoring us some [game] winning goals.”
Ryder, who looked surprised that the media was waiting to speak to him in the locker room after the game, talked about his goal.
“I had seen that [David Krejci
] had a bit of time over there and it was sort of a two-on-one,” he said. “I knew that if I would drive the net he could probably get it over to me.
“He made a great pass and I tried to chip it up over the goalie.”
Ryder, a Newfoundland native, who spent all of his previous NHL years in Montreal, admitted that he is feeling more like himself this season.
“Last year was definitely a tough year for me,” he said. “And this year I wanted to make sure that I come out and work hard to get my game back to where I knew I could play.
“It probably took a little while to get the confidence back up, but right now I am playing with two good players in [Krejci] and [Blake Wheeler].
|Boston Bruins' Michael Ryder, second from right, celebrates his goal with teammates Blake Wheeler, right, and Matt Hunwick (48) as Atlanta Thrashers' Bryan Little (10) skates past in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) |
“We have a lot of chemistry together and we seem to be able to know where each other is going on the ice,” he said.
Ryder understands that he and the rest of his Bruins teammates are now marked men – each team they face is going to try to take down the Eastern Conference leading Black & Gold.
“They are probably going to tighten up on us every night,” said Ryder. “For us, we just need to make sure we compete hard.
“We know that it’s not going to be easy, but for us to keep going we just need to make sure we get the pucks deep, trust [in the things] we do best and not get too fancy.”