BOSTON – A mere 12 hours or so after he helped the Bruins down Montreal in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Michael Ryder ambled through the home team’s dressing room at TD Garden today.
Coffee in hand, Ryder waltzed through with his hair up in a full Keith Richards poof (not intentionally, I’d imagine), his weeks-old blonde playoff beard glistening in the fluorescent lights and his eyes seemingly barely able to open even a slight crack.
It takes a lot out of a guy to save the fortunes of not just his team, but of an entire organization and a whole region of fans night after night in the Stanley Cup playoffs. A two-goal game capped by an overtime game-winner one night, a position-defying glove save between the pipes the next night.
What’s next in store for Ryder? Perhaps he’ll score a hat trick and break up a potential game-tying 4-on-1. Or hockey just might become too easy for him, so he’ll give Carl Crawford a tip to get his batting average up to .200 for the Red Sox, balance the U.S. budget and once and for all figure out whether the chicken or the egg came first.
The Easter Bunny wasn’t the only mythical creature on hand and in the flesh for Saturday night’s Game 5. We also witnessed the re-appearance of playoffs super hero “Ryder Man.”
For now, though, during the two days between Game 5 and 6 of this series, Ryder and the Bruins can bask in the glory of his amazing play. Those teammates that were made available to speak today had been marveling at “The Save” since last night through this morning.
“He showed off a little bit, I think,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who as the team leader in that department is no stranger to the shot-block game. “But he could do whatever he wanted. He saved a goal, so that’s good.”
Seidenberg has to know it was better than “good.” After all, had Ryder not made the save, Seidenberg would’ve worn the goat horns for committing the giveaway at Montreal’s blue line that sent the Canadiens on their way on an odd-man rush.
Adam McQuaid was also understated but impressed by Ryder when he said: “I’ve seen it a few times. I didn’t realize it was a glove save, I thought it was a kick save. So that’s a pretty good job by him.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk was impressed by Ryder’s technique.
“He even dropped his stick like a goalie,” he said, “and made the glove-hand save. It was pretty neat to see.”
In a game that featured just three goals scored and wasn’t decided until the teams had played 29:03 of extra hockey, “The Save” by Ryder was huge. It just goes to show that when you coast through 82 games of the regular season, forcing even the coach who’s usually your most ardent defender to scratch you, you can perform magnificent feats in the postseason by unleashing all that pent up energy.
Those of us that ridiculed Ryder’s ghost-like play when just standings points were on the line have been silenced. It’s the playoffs now, and it’s Ryder’s time. There’s no telling what “Ryder Man” will next accomplish.