Aside from jaw dropping goals and bone crushing hits, the NHL playoffs also offers some other intangibles that make it can't miss television.
Upsets, marathon overtime games, and of course personal interest stories. Stories of happy returns, stories of journeymen players stealing the spotlight, and stories of revenge and redemptions for players who have been given a second life in this league.
While the Bruins have a story line for every one of the aforementioned categories, perhaps the most interesting is the last one. The story of being given a second chance. A shot at resurrecting your career. A shot at redemption.
The subject of the juicy plot this time happens to be Michael Ryder. A once touted promising sniper for the Montreal Canadiens, Ryder posted back-to-back 30 goal season. He also broke the 50 point barrier in those seasons, and seemed like a forward who could deliver secondary scoring.
Somehow, in the 2007-2008 season, it all went awry. Ryder managed to get into only 70 games after finding himself in coach Carbonneau's doghouse. As a result his points total plummeted faster than an AIG stock, as Ryder managed only 14 goals and 31 points. He also played sparingly in the post season, a run that seen Montreal make it to the second round.
His contract was coming to an end, and everyone from coaches to GM's to fans in the city couldn't wait to get Ryder out of town. Ask most back then, and they would have packed his bags for him.
As Ryder came off his worst year in the NHL, many questioned who would take a chance on this one time thirty goal man. It wasn't expected there would be many offers.
Enter the Boston Bruins. The Bruins, under new direction in the form of GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien(another former members of the Canadiens.)
After improving under the guidance of the two, the Bruins shored up their defense, but the offense wasn't scaring anyone. Julien had a history of working with Ryder, which was always a successful partnership. Chiarelli, while working with the Senators, had seen enough of Ryder to know there was still a lot of game left.
So they took a chance on Ryder, and there were skeptics, including yours truly. Once I heard the Bruins had doled out $12 million over three years for the disgruntled winger, I will admit I thought it was a bad move.
And so did many people. But just like the surprise that was the Bruins meteoric rise to the top of the NHL, Ryder has also been a pleasant surprise for the B's, bouncing back and scoring 27 goals.
Ryder contributed the secondary scoring the Bruins were looking for, and along with the likes of Wheeler, Recchi, Kessel, Kobasew, and Krejci, made the Bruins one of the deepest teams in the NHL's regular season.
Ryder's regular season success has carried over to the post season as well, as he scored four goals for the Bruins in their four game sweep of Montreal, including two in the final game of the series.
For Ryder, it's a sweet revenge. A story of redemption. And a reason why you never give up when you have a dream.