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Hockey's Newest Dynamic Duo

Savard and Ryder Boost Boston's Offense

Friday, 10.17.2008 / 8:59 AM / Features
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Hockey\'s Newest Dynamic Duo
Wilmington, MA – On Thursday, dressed in the guise of mild mannered athletes, Bruins forwards Marc Savard and Michael Ryder attended practice at the Ristuccia Memorial Arena.

Unbeknownst to the casual observer, these two men have accounted for over half of the Black & Gold's goals and almost a third of the club's points during the first three games of the 2008-09 season.

On Wednesday, Savard brought the Bruins back from oblivion, tying the Montreal Canadiens with two third period goals, his fourth and fifth of the season, and forcing an overtime, which earned the B's an important point in the standings. Last Saturday, Ryder assisted on two other goals for Savard as the skaters nearly brought the B's back from a three-goal deficit.

Looking ahead, there is reason to believe that the points will continue to pile up.

"It's a result of him just shooting more," said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien of Savard's early success. "Last year, I thought he passed up on a lot of shooting opportunities to try and make the big play or try to make some sort of play.

"That would (sometimes) break down, and nothing would come out of it.

"This year we've really encouraged him to shoot a lot more, and he's being rewarded, and we hope that he can build on that stuff and then keep shooting the puck," he said.

Of Ryder, Julien said, "Last night he worked real hard.

"He created a lot of stuff, he won his battles, and he created some space and got in some areas.

"I think right now he's just a fraction away from getting some goals on a regular basis, because he's there, and maybe just getting the puck off of his stick a little bit quicker will certainly help him.

"There are times when he's in the right spot, works hard, and then somebody at the last second gets a stick on it. He's close to it, and I know that it will come eventually," he said.

Together with veteran winger P.J. Axelsson, Savard, an All-Star center, and Ryder, a sniper on right wing, have a save-the-day quality as Boston's first line.

"We've been working well together and getting a lot of chances," said Savard. "That's all we can ask for.

"Right now (the puck) is going in, and right now they're going in off my stick.

"Hopefully we can reverse the trend a bit, too, and he can get hot putting it in."   

Ryder is happy with the current trend.

"The last few games, we just seem to know where each other is going to be," said the winger. "Axie is a pretty good fit for our line, too….It just seems to be clicking good.

"It took a few games for us to get a feel for each others (game), but now, each game, I find that we are getting better and better.

"We're creating a little more offense, and we're getting a little better feel, like we can throw the puck (towards the net), and we know that the guy is going to be there," he said.

As the Bruins brass looked at the potential of a Savard and Ryder match-up, they surely envisioned the symbiotic relationship that has developed over the first three games of the season.

"I definitely knew how skilled he was having played against him," said Ryder, a former Canadiens player. "I knew that he always makes the great pass, (the one) that you don't think he make it through, but he always finds a way.

"It took a while for me to get used to trying to get open for him, and I wasn't expecting the pass, and all of a sudden he wouldn't look, and I would be there.

"So it's pretty cool that way, and it just took a while to get used to," he said.

Savard repeated that he would like to help Ryder get back to his old sniping self.

"I'm enjoying it, but I'm still a passer I think," said Savard. "But we're just working hard and we're getting some breaks.

"Coming into this year, I realized that a lot of teams were just playing me for the pass – especially on the power play.

"Sot that's opened me up for some good looks for some shots," he said.

Ryder remains pragmatic.

"It's all right," he said. "As long as we're scoring.

"That's the main thing, just putting some offense on the scoreboard, it doesn't really matter who scores."
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