Ryder told to take a seat
Slumping winger pulled by Julien
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Michael Ryder, his hands in a state of near-permafrost, kept a seat warm in the press box last night, the first time in his two-plus years with the Bruins that he was told by coach Claude Julien to take the night off.
His absence brought to an end his club-high streak of 172 regular-season games, dating back to Feb. 2009, a streak that began when Ryder returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a fractured facial bone.
Following the morning skate at Nationwide Arena, Julien made it clear he had not seen enough of late from Ryder, who will turn 31 at the end of the month. Ryder’s offensive touch disappeared three weeks ago, leaving him 1-2—3 in the 11 games leading up to last night.
Julien said that with playoffs on the horizon (13 games to go), he needed “accountability’’ up and down the lineup.
Asked if Ryder’s slump compared to the protracted one fellow right winger Nathan Horton was in around midseason, Julien said, “Michael’s a streaky player as well. He has to score goals, and when that isn’t happening, players have to give effort in other areas.’’
Ryder’s deletion brought rookie Tyler Seguin back into the lineup, and Seguin wound up scoring the only goal in the shootout, giving the Bruins a 3-2 win over Columbus.
Seguin, with 10 goals and 21 points in 62 games, had been assigned to the press box the previous two games and three of the last five. Julien has been reluctant to use him because he wants to a see greater commitment to physical play and one-on-one battles from the highly touted prospect.
To give Seguin the nod over Ryder had to be difficult for Julien, who in the summer of 2008 was the lead advocate to bring Ryder to Boston as an unrestricted free agent. He had coached Ryder in Montreal. For $12 million over three years, Ryder has delivered 62 goals and 123 points in 224 games.
“At this stage of the season,’’ said Julien, “we want accountability. And that may mean a player has to step his game up. If things aren’t going well, you have to help with something else.’’
Kampfer returns Rookie defenseman Steve Kampfer, idled the last four games with a concussion, was back in the lineup, getting 13 1/2 minutes of ice time. Less than a week ago, the 22-year-old Kampfer had a minor setback in his recovery, experiencing a headache soon after a workout on a stationary bike, his first exercise since getting dinged March 3. “I’m excited to get back in there,’’ Kampfer said following the morning workout. “My stamina feels fine. I think by this time of the year, we’re all pretty much in shape. All of it comes back pretty easily when you step out on the ice. The hardest thing to do is get your hands back.’’ It was last Wednesday night that Kampfer experienced the exercise-related headaches. “It was good to wake up Thursday morning and be symptom-free,’’ he said.
Hnidy feels ready Shane Hnidy, signed late last month to provide depth on the blue line, finished the day-of-game skate as one of the last two players on the ice, joined by fellow defenseman Andrew Ference. “I’m ready to go now,’’ said Hnidy, who won’t be eligible to play until he comes off injured reserve March 22. “It feels like I’ve been ready for an eternity — even longer.’’ Ference, Julien said, could be ready as early as tomorrow night when the Bruins face the Predators in Nashville. During the morning skate, a huffing-and-puffing Hnidy inadvertently clipped the back of Julien’s skates, sending the astonished coach crashing to the ice. After righting himself, he chuckled and exchanged taps of the stick with an apologetic Hnidy. “I saw the whole thing,’’ a veteran wag kidded Julien, “and Hnidy meant it, he was gunning for you.’’ “Well,’’ said a smiling Julien, “I didn’t see it, so I can’t comment.’’ But he felt it. “The risk of the coach’s life, right?’’ he said.
The Bruins were blanked again on the power play, but this time with an asterisk. Their entire time on the man-advantage lasted five seconds. Antoine Vermette was whistled for hooking at 10:38 of the first period, but only five seconds into the advantage, his Quebec City pal Patrice Bergeron was sent off for interference. After going a season-worst eight straight games without a power-play goal (0 for 19), the Bruins went 1 for 4 Friday against the Islanders, scoring on a five-on-three . . . The Blue Jackets were 0 for 6 on the advantage, spanning a total of 10:05. Even worse, they had the advantage (Horton off for hooking at 13:06) when Rich Peverley scored the tying goal . . . Milan Lucic (two shots, four hits, no points) didn’t look himself. He struggled over the weekend with lower gastrointestinal issues, which might have impacted his stamina . . . Brad Marchand looked a bit more engaged in the offense, landing five shots, and delivering an after-the-whistle elbow that nearly ignited a fight. The night ended fisticuff-free . . . Telling stat of the night: the Bruins were outhit, 37-22, with Grant Clitsome leading the way with seven hits . . . Rare off night at the faceoff dot for Bergeron, who lost 8 of 14 drops. Greg Campbell compensated by winning 7 of 9 . . . In his last 11 games, Ryder totaled 21 shots, another factor in Julien leaving him off the bus . . . As of yesterday morning, the three teams the Bruins see on this trip (Columbus, Nashville, Toronto) were without a playoff berth. They’ll face another, the Devils, Tuesday. Granted, it’s late in the season, but in a league that puts 16 teams in the playoffs, drawing four straight DNQs is a rarity.