UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Boston Bruins’ clash with the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum marks a bit of an anniversary.
The last time the Bruins and Isles met — a TD Banknorth Garden matinee Nov. 28 won by the Bruins 7-2 — Bruins head coach Claude Julien placed Michael Ryder on the right wing of a line featuring David Krejci and Blake Wheeler on the other side for the first time in game action. That afternoon, Ryder responded with two goals (he’d scored only three on the season up to that point) and the Bruins’ second line started its ascension toward challenging for first-line status.
When asked after the Bruins’ morning skate if that was the turning point of his season, Ryder downplayed the situation.
“For me, I think early in the year I was getting chances and I wasn’t scoring. I guess Claude changed his lines around and he tried me with (Krejci) and Wheels and we just seemed to have a chemistry there and things were going well,” said Ryder, who’s tied for second on the team with Krejci with 17 goals. “From there, probably our confidence was up a little more and the puck’s been finding the back of the net.”
Both Ryder and Krejci said this morning that there was an instant comfort between the three players, but that the chemistry had to build over time. The Krejci line has been so strong that, despite the rash of injuries the Bruins have dealt with, Julien has kept the trio together for nearly two months.
“As long as lines are going well, I’m going to keep them together. If they start slipping like anybody else, I’m going to do what I’ve got to do,” the coach said. “They’ve been consistent. They’ve been as consistent as we’ve seen in a line this year. And probably, knock on wood, they’ve been healthy. The other situations, we’ve had to move around a little bit either because of a line slipping a little bit or injuries. But they’ve been good. They’re a good match. They seem to really enjoy playing together, seem to be building more and more chemistry.”