Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ryder about to bust loose?

There has been some talk on various Habs related sites about Michael Ryder. Some of the glass-half-empty crowd seem to ignore the Habs' hot start, almost 1/5 of the way through the season. Some question why Ryder should be on the first line, or even call for trading him altogether.

While he is prone to some outright silly plays, he is still the lone, legitimate sniper the Habs currently employ. When he forgets that, he tends to go into his prolonged slumps. But when he awakens, we see why he has led the Habs in goals scored the past two seasons.

The last game against Buffalo was illustrative of these two sides of Michael Ryder. On the downside, he seems to sometimes think he's the second coming of Alex Kovalev, trying to deke and fake out opponents while carrying the puck into the zone. Or he thinks he has Tomas Plekanec's speed, trying to blow past defenders on the right side. He is neither, and he should leave the puck carrying to Saku and the speed demon bit to Higgins.

But there were also a couple of instances in last night's game that made me think Ryder is starting to work again, trying to do the little things to get back on his game:
  1. In the second period, he laid out Derek Roy with a mid-ice, shoulder check. At first, I thought that must have been Steve Begin. But no, it was #73.
  2. On the first goal, he hustled back to the defensive zone to help cover for Andrei Markov -- and for Saku and Higgins, both of whom went to the bench. Markov, knowing he was covered defensively, was able to pick off the Buffalo entry pass. He fed it to Kostitsyn, who gave a nice feed to Plekanec for the game winner. All of this starts with Ryder hustling back on D.
So those are the little signs that Carbo must be pleased with. Enough to let Ryder stay on the top line, but probably not enough to quiet the vociferous few calling for a trade.

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