The Bruins have had their share of hostile encounters with the Dallas Stars in recent years, and more unpleasantries could be in store on Saturday night.
But at least one current Star will be greeted warmly by the Bruins, who will be playing against former teammate Michael Ryder for the first time since winning a Cup together last spring.
“It’s good to see old teammates go somewhere else and do well,” Bruins center Chris Kelly told reporters ahead of the highly-anticipated matchup. “I think the thing with Rydes is wherever he would have went, he would have done well. He’s one of those players that has a knack for finding the net and he’s a great team guy and would fit into any locker room pretty easily.”
Ryder has certainly fit in well in Dallas, where he leads the Stars with 14 goals and is fourth on the team with 25 points through 36 games. That nearly matches his full season totals from his final two years in Boston, when he scored just 18 goals in each of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns. But Ryder always raised his game in the postseason, with 17-18-35 totals in 49 playoff games with the Bruins.
Ryder came up biggest last spring, finishing fourth on the Bruins with 8-9-17 totals in 25 games. He contributed greatly to Boston’s Cup run by scoring some key goals, as well as preventing one against Montreal with a memorable glove save with Tim Thomas caught out of the net. Having shared such an emotional journey together could make playing against his old teammates somewhat awkward, but Ryder is taking his usual laid-back approach to the impending contest.
“I don’t know [if it’s going to be weird],” Ryder told the Stars’ team web site. “I still know guys on the team and what we went through last year was a big thing. It’s almost January now and I’m part of this team here. It’s just another hockey game and there’s definitely going to be a little bit of emotion involved there. We’re definitely going to want to beat those guys, especially me. But I think they’re going to feel the same way about trying to beat us. That’s just the way it is but you still play hard and have fun while you’re doing it.”
Ryder had his share of fun in Boston, particularly clicking on a line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler in his first season with the Bruins, when he posted 27-26-53 totals in 2008-09. He recaptured that magic in the playoffs last spring skating alongside Kelly and Rich Peverley, and now has found a home on Dallas’ top line with Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn.
“Yeah, we’ve played together for a while now and are getting kind of used to each other,” Ryder said. “We were on a roll there for a while and then hit a rough patch but that happens during a season. You have your ups and downs.”
It’s been mostly ups for Ryder since signing a two-year, $7-million deal with Dallas last summer. He was held scoreless in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Columbus, but prior to that had scored goals in five straight games and points in six straight with 5-3-8 totals in that span. That matched his longest streak of his career, as he also scored goals in five straight and points in six straight back in December of 2005 while with Montreal. He also had a six-game point streak as a rookie with the Canadiens in February 2004.
With Boston, he never had goals in more than three straight games in the regular season, but did score goals in four in a row in the 2009 playoffs and had a five-game point streak in last year’s Cup run.
“It’s good to see him score, he’s a good teammate and to see a guy doing well with another team, you always want to see that, especially after what we went through,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “He’s a guy that scored timely goals. He always worked hard and he always made me laugh.”
The Bruins just want to make sure they get the last laugh by putting a temporary halt to their old buddy’s scoring on Saturday.