Ryd-ing into the playoffs

Ryder

Maybe two of the Bruins’ streakiest performers (and two of the most inconsistent players in the league) are heating up at just the right time.

Michael Ryder snapped a 12-game scoreless drought with two goals, including a rare power-play strike, and Marco Sturm scored for the first time in 15 in Boston’s 4-3 shootout road win over Washington today.

Ryder, who finished with 18 goals on the season, could be a valuable sniper in the Bruins’ opening-round season. If history is any indication, last year Ryder scored one goal in the Bruins’ regular-season finale to end an eight-game drought. He then tallied four scores in the opening-round sweep of Montreal and added a fifth postseason goal in Game 1 vs. Carolina.

We still won’t learn the identity of the Bruins’ first-round opponent until after that 5 p.m. contest between Buffalo and New Jersey. But at least we now know that Ryder and Sturm have a pulse.

A couple other thoughts:

•Zach Hamill registered his first assist and didn’t look out of place (for as much as I could pay attention to the meaningless game) when on the ice. He can use this performance as a building block when he reports to camp in the fall.

•One of the overlooked positive developments this season has been the development of Johnny Boychuk. In 27:02 of ice time today, Boychuk was again solid in all three zones, and even slowed Alexander Ovechkin a couple times. Boychuk has made it possible for the Bruins to withstand the litany of injuries to their back end down the stretch and could be a major factor in the playoffs, especially if the Bruins’ wounded defensemen don’t return and head coach Claude Julien has to lean on just two or three guys in big moments.

•Is Tim Thomas ready to step in if Tuukka Rask falters in his first NHL playoff series? Thanks to Jason Chimera, the answer might be yes. Thomas looked lost early on when he allowed a soft, short-side goal to Alexander Semin. But after Chimera drove the net and Thomas welcomed him with several right jabs, Thomas settled in and looked like he was back in midseason form. There’s no telling how Rask will handle the pressure of his first NHL playoff, so it’s huge that the Bruins have someone like Thomas to turn too should the heat get turned up too high for the rookie.

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