TAMPA, Fla. -– Bruins winger Shawn Thornton was transported back to a happier time for the team after Michael Ryder scored Boston's third goal in a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night.
"That play was reminiscent of what we saw a lot last year," said the rugged winger. "I'm looking forward to drinking my coffee and eating a bagel and watching it on 'SportsCenter' tomorrow."
The play featured a little give-and-go between Ryder and linemate Blake Wheeler. Wheeler made the return pass through traffic, which Ryder later said he didn't expect to get it. But when the puck arrived, he shot it as hard he could and found the back of a virtually empty Tampa Bay net.
Less than two minutes later, Ryder ran his goal total to 15 with a power-play tally. After the Bruins hung on for the win despite nearly squandering a 5-0 lead, Ryder said he has returned to an old, reliable philosophy: Shoot first, think later.
"I kind of got away from shooting the puck there for a little while," said Ryder, who had scored just once in his previous nine games. "That happens, I guess. It gets in your head a little bit. You don’t have that … you're just a little split-second late sometimes. As of late, I've been shooting the puck more and getting back to what I know I have to do. It feels good to get a couple goals and I've just got to make sure I keep doing those things."
While Ryder's official shot totals have held pretty stable over the course of the last several weeks, the quality of those chances has improved in the last handful of games. Now that he added the finish, it might be time for Ryder to catch fire and make a run at 20, even 25 goals. The Bruins need him to be the finisher on the line with Wheeler and David Krejci because it seems that when that trio is firing on all cylinders -- as it did for most of last winter’s magical campaign -- everything else seems to fall into place.
"We were playing well for a few games now and we were getting lots of chances, but just couldn't manage to get the results," said Ryder. "But I think as of late we've been clicking a little better and bearing down a little more around the net. We've just got to make sure we keep doing the things that we do well. I think we don't throw pucks away like we used to. We handle it and make better decisions when we do have the puck."
Of course, the best decision often is to shoot, especially for Ryder.
"When they start scoring, they figure it out, don't they? It's almost like, 'Oh, I wish I knew earlier,'" quipped coach Claude Julien. "So we've been telling those guys to shoot. I thought that line really played well tonight. They found each other."