Michael Ryder returned to the ice for the first time in seven games last night against the Panthers, and didn't look like he missed a beat. Ryder finished the game with a goal and an assist.
Ryder, who had surgery earlier this month to repair facial fractures, played on the second line and recorded 13:34 minutes of ice time. Instead of putting him on the third line and easing him in, Julien decided to put him on the second line, where he has played most of the year. The impact was immediate, as he recorded an assist on the Bruins' second goal of the game.
As the game continued, it looked as though Ryder hadn't missed any time. He had a full face shield on that covered most of his face and said he expects to wear it for the rest of the year. Ryder scored his 20th goal of the year with just over 11 minutes left in the third period.
With 21 games still left to be played, Ryder still has a shot at 30 goals. This may be a sign of him returning to his old form when he played for the Canadiens, and had back-to-back 30-plus-goal years. As most of you may remember, he usually killed the Bruins during those times, as well.
With Ryder back, the team is all but at full strength, with the exception of Marco Sturm. They will look to continue great play into the playoffs, and hopefully the Stanley Cup.