All clear for Ryder in return
Michael Ryder, a plastic shield covering his face to protect his surgically repaired nose, returned to the Bruins lineup last night, lining up at his customary right wing spot on a line with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci.
Ryder's return came roughly a week earlier than expected, based on the reports following his Feb. 9 surgery that had doctors mending three small fractures above the bridge of his nose.
The reason for his speedy recovery?
"I don't know," the veteran winger mused following the morning workout at the Garden. "Good doctors, I guess?"
Ryder figured he would need time to adjust to his facial guard, one he wore for the first time yesterday morning, but it didn't keep him from scoring the final goal in the Bruins' 6-1 win over the Panthers.
Ryder connected on a power play, his 20th goal of the season, at 9:31 of the third period.
"It wasn't that bad," said Ryder about coping with his new protective shield. "Probably the first few shifts, you noticed it there. Honestly, it felt a little hot, but other than that it was easy to get used to."
Ryder also appreciated being back with Wheeler and Krejci.
"It's pretty simple when you jump out with the same guys you've played with all year," he said.
Ryder finished with a goal and assist, and landed two shots on net.
Headed into the weekend, Chiarelli said his priority would be to add a forward, rekindling speculation that he might target Edmonton's Erik Cole or St. Louis's Keith Tkachuk. Entering yesterday, both clubs were below the playoff cutoff in the West, but they weren't so far out of contention as to be considered "sellers."
Blues president John Davidson said he has yet to figure out whether he will be a buyer or a seller. He also said he has yet to speak with Tkachuk, who is on target to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"Walt's been just great, tremendous to be around this season," said Davidson, referring to Tkachuk by his nickname. "This is my third year here, and I've really enjoyed being around him this year. I know people look at his numbers [18-17 -35 in 57 games] and say they're off.
"But with all the injuries we've had, we asked him to move to a checking line for a substantial part of the season. They're maybe not be what you expect, but that's because of the role he's filled for us, and he's done that without the slightest complaint."
Even with Chiarelli's stated desire to find offense, don't discount the possibility that he will attempt to bolster the back line. The name of Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger remains hot on the rumor mill.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.