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Bruins notebook

All clear for Ryder in return

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / February 25, 2009
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Michael Ryder, a plastic shield covering his face to protect his surgically repaired nose, returned to the Bruins lineup last night, lining up at his customary right wing spot on a line with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci.

Ryder's return came roughly a week earlier than expected, based on the reports following his Feb. 9 surgery that had doctors mending three small fractures above the bridge of his nose.

The reason for his speedy recovery?

"I don't know," the veteran winger mused following the morning workout at the Garden. "Good doctors, I guess?"

Ryder figured he would need time to adjust to his facial guard, one he wore for the first time yesterday morning, but it didn't keep him from scoring the final goal in the Bruins' 6-1 win over the Panthers.

Ryder connected on a power play, his 20th goal of the season, at 9:31 of the third period.

"It wasn't that bad," said Ryder about coping with his new protective shield. "Probably the first few shifts, you noticed it there. Honestly, it felt a little hot, but other than that it was easy to get used to."

Ryder also appreciated being back with Wheeler and Krejci.

"It's pretty simple when you jump out with the same guys you've played with all year," he said.

Ryder finished with a goal and assist, and landed two shots on net.

Talking shop
The trade deadline is a week from today, at 3 p.m., and there remains no telling how aggressive Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli will be.

Headed into the weekend, Chiarelli said his priority would be to add a forward, rekindling speculation that he might target Edmonton's Erik Cole or St. Louis's Keith Tkachuk. Entering yesterday, both clubs were below the playoff cutoff in the West, but they weren't so far out of contention as to be considered "sellers."

Blues president John Davidson said he has yet to figure out whether he will be a buyer or a seller. He also said he has yet to speak with Tkachuk, who is on target to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"Walt's been just great, tremendous to be around this season," said Davidson, referring to Tkachuk by his nickname. "This is my third year here, and I've really enjoyed being around him this year. I know people look at his numbers [18-17 -35 in 57 games] and say they're off.

"But with all the injuries we've had, we asked him to move to a checking line for a substantial part of the season. They're maybe not be what you expect, but that's because of the role he's filled for us, and he's done that without the slightest complaint."

Even with Chiarelli's stated desire to find offense, don't discount the possibility that he will attempt to bolster the back line. The name of Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger remains hot on the rumor mill.

Power boost needed
The Boston power play, one of the league's best as of a month ago, went 1 for 2 last night, though it has been a candidate for cryogenics over the last 3-4 weeks. It had been stoned in nine of the last 12 games, and was 5 for 50 overall in that stretch . . . Meanwhile, the Black-and-Gold penalty killing has been proficient of late, snuffing out 22 of 24 advantages in the last seven games, including one last night . . . Phil Kessel and Zdeno Chara each took nine shots. Big Z landed a game-high seven on net. Only four of Kessel's made their way to the net . . . Krejci (no points) lost 7 of his 11 faceoffs, for only a 36 percent rate at the dot . . . The three stars: 1. Byron Bitz; 2. Ryder; 3. Milan Lucic.

It's a start . . .
Kessel, who scored a goal Sunday in Tampa to snap a 14-game drought, started the night on a line with Lucic and Marc Savard. Coach Claude Julien said he was encouraged by Kessel's goal but added, "We've been waiting for a while for that to happen. One game doesn't get a guy out of a funk." . . . Matt Hunwick, demoted to Providence yesterday along with forward Vladimir Sobotka, is expected back with the varsity today, following a one-game tuneup last night in Manchester, N.H. "He hasn't played for us in awhile," said Julien, noting that the smooth-skating defenseman suited up only once since Jan. 29. "So, when he's back, it's not a guy out there who hasn't played in three weeks. He'll have a chance to play [with Providence] and fine-tune his game." . . . Veteran blue liner Shane Hnidy, who suffered an eye injury earlier this season, continues to wear a half-shield. He still isn't certain whether he'll wear it permanently. "I've got a checkup coming and I'll see what the doc says," said Hnidy. "I've kind of gotten used to it. There are still times with the sweat and spray that you're constantly having to wipe it down, but it's OK." . . . Petteri Nokelainen, who also sustained an eye injury Feb. 10 vs. the Sharks, skated for the first time in two weeks, prior to the morning workout. According to Julien, he could be cleared for contact in a few days.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com.

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