The Clincher


michael ryder penalty shot goal

Do I have to take back everything I’ve said about Michael Ryder now?

Maybe not. However. His penalty shot goal in the third period of today’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers at TD Garden gave the Bruins not only a 3-2 victory but sealed the Northeast Division title for his team. Not a bad afternoon’s work for the Newfoundland native who had, until Shawn Thornton took 40 stiches to the head, been looking like his stat lines for games would include more DNP’s than GWG’s.

All in all, it wasn’t the most exciting matinee the Garden crowd will see as the Thrashers, technically still alive for a playoff spot before the loss, didn’t show the sort of desperation one might expect from a team in that position. As if in response, the Bruins began the day looking a bit sleepy themselves. The two teams traded goals back and forth and were tied 2-2 in the third when Ryder got hauled down on a breakaway by Johnny Oduya. A penalty shot was justly awarded and Ryder skated in on Ondrej Pavelec and shot high glove, the same move he attempted in the shootout against Toronto the other night. Let’s face it, there is not much deke in Michael Ryder’s game. This time there was some snipe however as the shot was buried in the top corner and the crowd was celebrating. Seven and a half minutes later the game was in the books and so was the Division title.

The Bruins are fairly well locked into the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference now and the remaining 4 games will be a matter of keeping guys tuned up and rested for what will hopefully be a meaningful post-season run. That and watching to see how the bottom of the Conference playoff spots will settle to see who they might play. It’s all up in the air. Just two points separate Buffalo, Montreal and the Rangers so there’s still time to shuffle the order there. And who know? The B’s might win out down the stretch and pass Washington for the second spot. Even Philly remains in reach.

The bottom line is that is doesn’t matter now. You’ll have home ice to start the playoffs and you’ll be facing a familiar foe. How it sorts out is almost irrelevant. The B’s seem to have their heads on straight in that they know it’s their own game they need to be focused on and, by all the evidence, they are doing just that.

Couple of other notes from the game:

  • Brad Marchand was the deserving recipient of the 2011 7th Player Award. It goes to the player who has exceeded all expectations during the season and is voted on by the fans. Given the rookie’s surprising goal scoring and his superior penalty killing abilities, as well as his role as a true pest, it’s no surprise he takes home the 42nd presentation of the award. Nice to hear the old TV38 theme song there for a moment. Ah, memories.
  • The Sheriff Shane Hnidy made his season debut in the game. Out all season with a shoulder injury, the B’s signed him about a month ago as an insurance policy on the blueline and, also, for his leadership ability in the room I think. His reputation as a character guy is well respected in these parts and whether he contributes on the ice in the playoffs or not, his presence will be nothing but positive to the team. Good to see one of the good guys feeling good.
  • B’s now stand at 99 points. If my math is correct they need just one more for a hundred point season.
  • What? Don’t flaunt my genius? Jealously is an ugly emotion, folks.


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