Commentary

A silver lining in Bruins' loss

Ryder's play is something to build on; trip points add up

Updated: January 16, 2010, 9:19 PM ET
By Matt Kalman | ESPNBoston.com

Even when things seem to be finally turning in the right direction for Bruins winger Michael Ryder, he just can't seem to get all the bounces.

After he scored one of the two goals that were recorded 11 seconds apart in the second period to put Boston ahead 3-1 Saturday in Los Angeles, Ryder's third-period bid for a second goal and a 4-1 lead rang off the right post and away from the net.

There's no telling what would have happened had that puck found the mesh, but what we do know is that the Bruins couldn't hang onto their two-goal lead and dropped a 4-3 decision in a shootout.

[+] EnlargeMichael Ryder
Noah Graham/Getty ImagesMichael Ryder celebrates with teammates after a goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Bruins players and coaches will probably look at Saturday's game, and the three-game California road trip as a whole, and agonize over the missed opportunities. Boston lost a 3-2 lead heading into the third period in Anaheim. Then the Bruins pulled out the shootout win in San Jose, but squandered a two-goal lead in L.A.

Of course, those of us who don't live and die with wins and losses can look at the Bruins' trip with perspective. Boston took three points from two teams that are both legit title contenders in the difficult Western Conference despite dealing with a rash of injuries. While David Krejci and Mark Stuart both returned to the lineup Saturday, the Bruins played without Marco Sturm and Dennis Wideman. Making matters worse, Steve Begin disappeared from the bench area in the second period and returned for just one third-period shift.

The points in the standings are the biggest positive the Bruins can take away from the trip. But there were plenty of other things to like. Blake Wheeler and Matt Hunwick seem to have both defeated their sophomore jinxes. Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara are both playing as though they're trying to earn a berth on the nonexistent All-Star team. And then there's Ryder, whose post-ringer was the second bounce that went against him. Originally, Ryder was credited with two goals until a review of the film showed that Wheeler's shot deflected off Kings defenseman Sean O'Donnell, not Ryder, before beating Jon Quick for the go-ahead score.

Ryder's goal 11 seconds later snapped an eight-game goal-less drought and was his 11th of the season. He finished the game a plus-1, fired four shots on net, and was credited with an impressive four hits. The loss to the Kings was Ryder's most active game in weeks.

It seems like this has been written five or six times this season, but maybe now Ryder is about to get on the type of hot streak that could get him back on pace for at least 25 goals. When the Bruins left for their road trip without Marc Savard, some were calling for general manager Peter Chiarelli to make a deal to fill the void. Sometimes, however, the best solution to a problem for a team battling injuries is for underperforming players to produce. Wheeler, Hunwick, Chara and Johnny Boychuk all contributed during the road trip, and maybe Ryder's trip-finale performance can be something to build on.

Bruins note: The Bruins will be collecting money for the relief effort in Haiti on Monday during their game with Ottawa at TD Garden. The Jacobs family, the Bruins and the TD Garden will collectively match all funds raised. Bruins representatives and fans will be stationed throughout the arena to accept donations.

Matt Kalman is the Bruins blogger for ESPNBoston.com and runs TheBruinsBlog.net.

Matt Kalman

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. He has been on the Bruins beat since the lockout for numerous publications and has been covering the Boston sports scene for a decade.

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