Michael Ryder hopes to rebound from a tough 09-10 season, keep his spot with the Bruins

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for michaelryderbrotherofdan.jpgMuch like Sheldon Souray in Edmonton and Brian Rolston in New Jersey, Michael Ryder must be sweating out his status a bit when it comes to his place with the Boston Bruins. The snake-bitten forward discussed his hopes of having a bounce-back season after declining from 27 goals in 08-09 to 18 in 09-10.

Here’s what he had to say to the Bruins Blog.

Ryder, who has one year ($4 million annually) remaining on his contract, could be a candidate for assignment once Marco Sturm is activated off long-term injured reserve. But if Ryder, projected to skate alongside David Krejci and Blake Wheeler once more, could make his roster spot a permanent one if he dusts off last year’s struggles.

“There’s definitely always pressure,” Ryder said. “This year, I’ve got to make sure I have a better year than last year. It was disappointing overall. I just think I’ve got to come out strong and get off to a good start. For me personally, I know the things I’ve got to better at from last year. I’ve got to try to shoot more and get the puck in the net.”

Ryder scored 18 goals in 82 games last season. The year before, Ryder found the back of the net 27 times.

What might help Ryder this year is Krejci’s health. Krejci, who dislocated his right wrist against Philadelphia, said he’s very close to feeling 100 percent. Last year, Krejci was coming off hip surgery and wasn’t himself at the start of the season. In turn, Ryder and Wheeler suffered because of their center’s yet-to-click game.

It’s hard not to wonder that – much like Souray – Ryder might not even get the chance to prove that last season was just a bump in the road.

The heat will be on if he gets the opportunity, as many believe that Ryder is the most expendable of the Bruins many forwards who register at or near $4 million against the salary cap. He’s not an elite defensive forward or a gritty two-way player, so Ryder’s going to have to do what he does best: score goals. If he shows a renewed ability to do just that, he’ll be very valuable to a Bruins team that is searching for the finishing touch they’ve been missing since they traded Phil Kessel.

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    Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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    What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

    The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

    It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

    Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

    He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

    That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

    Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

    Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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    The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

    It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

    He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

    Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

    “You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

    “From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

    After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

    Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

    Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

    According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

    Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

    At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

    Can they top that? Time will tell.

    Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

    Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

    Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

    The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

    Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.

    Flyers’ Neuvirth (lower body) will be between the pipes vs. the Devils on Saturday

    Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) of the Czech Republic stops a shot from the Dallas Stars in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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    Michal Neuvirth will make his first start of the month in Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

    The 27-year-old missed five games with a lower-body injury. He was activated off the injured list earlier this week and served as Steve Mason‘s backup in Thursday’s game against Buffalo.

    Neuvirth has an 11-6-2 record with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage in 2015-16.

    He’s put up some solid numbers against the Devils in his career. Neuvirth has a 5-2-4 record with 2.03 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in games against New Jersey.

    Steve Mason, who’s coming off a 41-save performance in a win over Buffalo, hasn’t been as good against Saturday’s opponent.

    Mason is 0-7-0 lifetime against the Devils.

    Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m. ET.