BOSTON — You can rightfully batter Michael Ryder for some brutal stretches of regular-season hockey over the last couple campaigns.
But you also have to give him credit for coming up big in some of the Bruins’ most dramatic postseason victories over the last three years.
If Ryder doesn’t get signed this summer as an unrestricted free agent, the Bruins should definitely consider waiting until playoff time to re-sign him. He was huge in the four-game sweep of Montreal two years ago, as the Bruins won a playoff series for the first time in a decade.
He came up big last season as the Bruins advanced to the second round for the second straight year with an upset of Buffalo.
Tonight with the season on the line in the Eastern Conference Final, Ryder made sweet music with rookie Tyler Seguin and produced a two-goal, three-point night en route to a series-tying 6-5 win over Tampa Bay.
It was just a couple months ago that Ryder was a healthy scratch so the Bruins could put Seguin into the lineup. Then by the end of the regular season and start of the playoffs, those roles reversed. Now they’re combining for some much-needed offense during the Bruins’ drive to a championship.
“That’s the way it goes, I guess. I think we learned a lot from that, me and Segz,” said Ryder after the game. “I was there before. So … Seguin, he did a great job. I think his first playoffs, it’s been a huge two games for him and it’s definitely going to give him some confidence. We need that from him.”
Seguin finished the night with two goals, two assists. The pair — who were centered by Chris Kelly and saw their ice time increase from Game 1 when they were centered by Rich Peverley — also clicked on Seguin’s goal in the first game. This could be a match made in heaven, especially as Ryder finishes up his career with Boston before free agency. He could be the guy that helps get Seguin’s NHL career off the ground.
“Yeah, I think I always felt we were clicking throughout the season. He gave me my first NHL goal in the regular season and my first playoff goal, so I’ve got to give a lot of credit to that guy,” said the 19-year-old. “So, I think I try to use my speed and I’ve always been a decent playmaker and he’s got a tremendous shot. So really when I’m in their zone, I’m just looking for that guy and I know he’s not going to make a mistake.”
At least in the playoffs, you can say that about Ryder. And when it comes down to it, isn’t that when it really, truly matters?