DALLAS - Being a Newfoundland native and a lifelong Northeast Division resident prior to this season, Michael Ryder required some seasoning to adjust to life in the Western Conference.
“Just the travel, I found, was a little different,’’ said the first-year Star and former Bruin. “The road trips we’re having are seven days, 10 days. That’s the biggest difference.
“You get home a lot later. The time zones, there’s so many time zones, so that’s different. The road trips take a while to get used to.’’
Other than that, life in Dallas has been pretty good.
With a first-period strike in the Stars’ 4-2 win over the Bruins last night, Ryder has a team-leading 15 goals. Most recently, he has been skating on the first line alongside Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn. The shoot-first Ryder has inflicted nearly all of his damage during even-strength situations; his goal last night was only his second on the power play.
For rookie coach Glen Gulutzan, having a Stanley Cup-winning veteran has been a welcome addition.
“He’s been tremendous for us,’’ Gulutzan said. “You can see he’s come from a winning organization. He plays good two-way for us. He’s scored for us. He’s been a great guy in the locker room.’’
Ryder’s price was too expensive for the Bruins’ liking. The right wing scored a two-year, $7 million contract from the Stars upon the opening of free agency. Boston management projected that Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley would pick up the goal-scoring responsibilities that Ryder once assumed.
So far, Peverley has taken the most shifts in Ryder’s former position on the third line. And while Seguin has cooled recently, the second-year pro scored his 15th goal last night, the same amount as Ryder.
For Ryder, signing with Dallas meant a split from Claude Julien, his longtime coach. They were together on four teams: Hull (QMJHL), Hamilton (AHL), Montreal, and Boston.
In Dallas, Ryder is serving as a veteran presence with a Cup on his résumé. So far, it’s been a good fit between player and organization.
“We have good team chemistry here,’’ Ryder said. “Everybody gets along.’’
Not a top model
In terms of players who combine high performance with agitation, there are few in the league who rival Steve Ott. The uber-agitator, who has been skating on Dallas’s second line, has a reputation as being one of the league’s most hated players.
Bruins winger Brad Marchand may have similar qualities, but he doesn’t want to be known as an Ott clone.
“I’ve never looked at him as someone I’ve wanted to model my game around,’’ Marchand said. “He might play a bit of a similar style. But I’ve never tried to model my game around him at all.’’
Like Ott, Marchand doesn’t have many friends around the league because of his abrasive play. But Marchand doesn’t want to be known as an Ott-like villain.
“I already know I’m not a player that guys like or are fond about,’’ Marchand said. “But I’m OK with that. I’m not going out there to be friends with everyone. I want to do a job and help our team win.
“Agitating is part of the game. Some guys need to do it. Some guys do it more than others. I sometimes need to do it to get into the game more. It can help at times.’’
After missing two straight games because of an undisclosed injury, Peverley was back as the No. 3 right wing last night. He acknowledged that his ailment will require management, via rest and treatment, for the rest of the season.
“I felt fine,’’ said Peverley (two shots, 6 of 7 on faceoffs, 16:55 of ice time). “It’s just about getting your timing back.’’
Hamill a scratch
With Peverley back in, Zach Hamill was a healthy scratch. Hamill is approaching the 10-game/30-day segment that will require him to pass through waivers to be reassigned to Providence. He has appeared in eight games and has been on recall since Dec. 9. If Hamill is assigned before either threshold is reached, he will not have to pass through waivers. Given Hamill’s performance and pedigree, he could be claimed if placed on waivers. Hamill was brought up on emergency recall, which allowed him to bypass re-entry waivers. “Whether we choose to let him play and stay sharp down below, or whether we decide for him to stay here, I think a lot will depend on our discussions as far as coaches and upper management,’’ Julien said . . . Steven Kampfer was the other healthy scratch . . . The Bruins were 0 for 3 on the power play. They allowed two man-advantage goals in six opportunities.