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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    Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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    Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

    (Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

    You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

    Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

    Letang told his side of the story:

    The Capitals disagree:

    While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

    No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

    Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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    If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

    The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

    (Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

    Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

    A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

    First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

    Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

    Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

    In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

    This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

    Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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    It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

    (You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

    There are a few things we do know already.

    For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

    Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

    In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

    There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

    Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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    Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

    ***

    As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

    Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

    Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

    Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

    Things could get ugly in Game 3:

    One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

    Also, lateness of the check:

    The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

    Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

    Read reactions to the check here.