For three years in a Bruins sweater, Michael Ryder was something of an enigma.
However, with his $12 million contract now complete, we can safely say we have the answer to what makes the right winger tick.
When the stakes are the highest, he elevates his level of play to the point where he actually looks like a player worthy of the riches Boston bestowed upon him starting in the summer of 2008. And when the prize might just be two points in the standings, Ryder puts his game on cruise control.
The Bruins aren’t complaining, considering the major role he played in their run to the Cup. But his Jekyll/Hyde act might affect the Bruins’ decision to re-sign him or let him go.
Reg. season: 79 GP, 18-23-41, minus-1
Playoffs: 25 GP, 8-9-17, plus-8
Contract status: Scheduled UFA July 1
Best regular-season moment: Over the previous three weeks, Ryder had been a healthy scratch three times. On April 2, he was in the lineup against Atlanta. Just past the midway point of the third period, he got behind the Thrashers’ defense and drew a penalty on Johnny Oduya. With a roofed shot on the ensuing penalty shot, Ryder put Boston ahead, 3-2, to stay and helped the Bruins clinch the Northeast Division title.
Best playoff moment: After he scored the overtime winner as part of a two-goal night in Game 4 of the first-round series with Montreal, it was hard to think of what Ryder could do to top that. Of course, not many knew about his skill as a goaltender. Ryder’s right glove save on Tomas Plekanec’s shot attempt in the first period was one of the most crucial plays of the Bruins’ Cup run, as they went on to win that game in overtime en route to a seven-game series victory.
Worst moment: Ryder showed up for work March 15 in Columbus and heard the words he had never previously heard in his Bruins career: he was a healthy scratch. Ryder hadn’t scored in six games and had recorded just one goal in his previous 14 outings. Overall, he just wasn’t doing the things head coach Claude Julien needed him to, so he spent the night in the press box. There would be two more healthy scratches in Ryder’s future before the regular season ended.
Regular-season grade: C
Playoff grade: A-minus. Ryder’s play hit a lull in the Philadelphia series, but he turned it up again after that. He could’ve finished more on the power play.
Carnac predicts … Ryder will find himself another multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal from a team desperate for “playoff Ryder” to help them out. The Bruins will gladly let him walk and replace him with younger and cheaper players.