Much 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.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.