BOSTON — Everyone has their favorite Michael Ryder quip.
Whether it’s a play on his name or comparing his performances to some inanimate object, we’ve all taken our shots at him several times over his three seasons in black and gold.
He might be getting the last laugh with his heroics, including a Game 5 glove save on Tomas Plekanec, in Boston’s last two victories in its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Montreal. But that doesn’t mean head coach Claude Julien can’t still take a lighthearted look at the up-and-down career of Ryder with the Bruins.
Julien has coached Ryder from junior all the way through the American League and now with two different NHL clubs. The forward has enjoyed some productive years and some invisible ones. When asked today what it is he does to to “always” get the best out of Ryder, Julien was brutally honest.
“Well, obviously I don’t all the time. And I wish I could,” he said.
“But Michael is one of those guys that when he’s on his game, as you can see, he’s a very good player. Yesterday he showed another side of him. Obviously in Montreal he scored two big goals. But yesterday the save, one of the backchecks he made — he just buried his head — I think he’s really feeling good about his game right now and he’s certainly been a pretty good player for us in the last few games.
“He’s just one of those guys that, believe it or not, can be a difference-maker. I’ve seen it in the past. I know that and he was brought in here to be an addition to our hockey club that we felt could be there. He had that first year where he scored the type of goals we thought he would, or the amount he would. He’s had challenges in the last couple years. But again, this is a situation where you remember players for how they finish not how they start.”
If Ryder keeps finishing the way he has the last couple games, he’ll be remembered for a long time. And not just for the book’s worth of jokes he has inspired during his time in Boston.