Bruins Notebook

Julien ready to try, try again

Ryder-Savard get another shot

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 18, 2009

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CHICAGO - In theory, Michael Ryder should be the bread to Marc Savard’s butter.

Savard is the pass-first center who can thread pucks through skates and sticks, placing them flat on a wingman’s blade. Ryder is the triggerman with the team’s best release, able to scoop up passes and rifle them off his stick in one sweeping motion before a goaltender can flash a glove or pad.

But for some reason, the two have never been able to sustain long-term chemistry in the two seasons Ryder has been a Bruin.

“I wouldn’t put too much into that,’’ said coach Claude Julien following yesterday’s session at Johnny’s Icehouse, the Blackhawks’ practice rink. “I think last year, we had the luxury of moving quick. We had lots of different options.’’

Two summers ago, with a right wing spot to be vacated by Glen Murray (the Bruins would buy out the veteran forward), general manager Peter Chiarelli signed Ryder to a three-year, $12 million contract. The plan was for Ryder to ride shotgun with Savard and convert those feeds into goals. But even during the preseason, Savard and Ryder didn’t click like the Bruins thought they would. However, Ryder found a center in David Krejci. Phil Kessel became Savard’s go-to right wing.

But now, with the Bruins failing to turn scoring chances into goals (three scores in the last two games), Savard and Ryder will find themselves together tonight against Chicago, with Marco Sturm serving as their left wing. Considering their previous output, Ryder and Sturm can be considered the Bruins’ purest goal scorers, and Julien is stacking Savard’s line in hopes of producing some offense.

“It doesn’t mean that the other lines can’t [produce],’’ said Julien. “We should be able to rely on Krejci and [Blake] Wheeler and those kinds of guys. [Patrice] Bergeron and [Mark] Recchi. Those guys can still produce. I like the way our fourth line played the last game. If they can give us that again, that will certainly help our team to hopefully score some more goals. Having said that, we’re playing a team [tonight] that’s the stingiest in the league. Certainly the challenge is there.’’

The Blackhawks have allowed a league-low two goals per game. On Wednesday, Cristobal Huet blanked the Blues, 3-0. In the previous game, Antti Niemi earned the shutout in a 4-0 victory over Tampa Bay.

It’s a good bet that Bergeron, Recchi, and Daniel Paille, who practiced together yesterday, will be matched against Chicago’s top offensive duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. So with their focus being defense first, it will be even more necessary for Savard and Co. to find some instant chemistry and apply pressure on the Chicago goal.

“When you’re playing with other people, you always need to learn their tendencies and what they like to do on the ice,’’ said Ryder. “Sometimes it might take a little longer in practice to get used to each other. I think we did have success when we were together. We had chances. I think we were creating things.’’

Debut likely
With Mark Stuart (sternum) and Dennis Wideman (undisclosed injury) unavailable, Andy Wozniewski or Adam McQuaid, recalled from Providence Tuesday, will make his first regular-season appearance for the Bruins tonight. Based on his NHL experience (77 games), Wozniewski will most likely get the nod, with McQuaid serving as a healthy scratch. Wozniewski hails from nearby Buffalo Grove, approximately an hour north of downtown Chicago.

Yesterday, the lefthanded-shooting Wozniewski skated on the left side of the second pairing, with Andrew Ference switching to the right side. Matt Hunwick, a healthy scratch in three of the last four games, will be back in uniform, said Julien. Hunwick would probably be paired with Johnny Boychuk. During power-play drills, Hunwick and Boychuk took shifts in Wideman’s spot on the No. 2 unit.

“They bring different elements to the game,’’ Julien said of Wozniewski and McQuaid. “You’ve got to look into [Wozniewski’s] experience. He’s also from this area, which should be a little motivation. At the same time, we’ve got another guy that when we lose Stuart, McQuaid is a pretty tough individual as well. He gives you that physical presence.’’

Familiar turf
For the second straight game, Steve Begin will skate on the left side on the fourth line. Begin had been a center all season, but switched to left wing Monday against Philadelphia to give Vladimir Sobotka some pivot work. “Not like I’m lost out there,’’ said Begin, who played left wing in Montreal. “Not like I’ve never played there. All the same. Only thing is I don’t take faceoffs.’’ . . . The Bruins had a team dinner upon their arrival here Wednesday. They were originally scheduled to leave Boston yesterday, but wanted to fit in a team-building road meal . . . Of the nine players tabbed for shootout work yesterday, only Wheeler and Sturm scored goals. Each player was given two shots.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at

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