BOSTON — Michael Ryder’s last-gasp attempt to avoid a goal-less month of March came fractions of an inch shy tonight.
The veteran Bruins winger, back in the lineup after two games out as a healthy scratch because of Shawn Thornton’s head injury, fired a puck past Toronto goaltender James Reimer and off the post early in the second period.
Boston could’ve used the goal to avoid its 4-3 shootout loss at TD Garden, and Ryder needed it to prevent a 12-game goal-scoring drought. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Nonetheless, Ryder — who fired one shot on goal and three that were blocked on the night — said after the loss that he felt he played the best he could after sitting out a couple contests.
“I didn’t get a whole bunch of ice time,” said Ryder, who logged 12:21 over 13 shifts mostly on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. “But I think I took advantage of what I got. I think I worked hard and had some chances and worked hard and created things. When you’re ice time’s limited, you’ve got to try to do that as much as you can.”
Ryder had another chance to hit the score sheet in the shootout. But like like Tyler Seguin before him and Rich Peverley after him, he fired a wrist shot high to the glove side. In fact Ryder’s shot looked like it was closer to going over the protective netting than into the goal’s net.
“If I hit the net, it was a goal. But I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I think it went so high; I don’t know what happened. But [Reimer] likes to go down and we tried to beat him with a quick shot. Me and [Seguin] both missed the net. If me and [Seguin] hit the net, it’s a goal.”
Instead the Bruins lost the shootout, 1-0. Whether head coach Claude Julien will take into account Ryder’s better effort over his lack of production the next time he has 13 forwards available and has to make out a lineup sheet, remains to be seen.
“Well he didn’t play much in the first period because of everything that was going on. But when he was in there he had some chances. He hit the post and reacted well,” said Julien.
Either because of a desire to add some scoring punch or due to injury, the Bruins are going to need Ryder at some point if their playoff run goes as long as they want it to. Hitting the post might’ve been an indication of him starting to find his game, so it might be worth throwing Ryder out there a few more times before the end of the regular season.