If you’ve been watching preseason Devils hockey, you might have seen Michael Ryder scoring 2 goals and an assist in the 5-4 win over the New York Rangers.
Not only that, but his line generated 4-out of-5 of those goals.
Be shocked, because I know I was.
Since coming to New Jersey, Ryder’s game has been off. He has always had such great potential, but it has been falling to the wayside since becoming a New Jersey Devil. He hasn’t brought the Michael Ryder the Devils saw in him.
It’s because of that, many (including myself) have pitted him as being the next person to be traded from the club.
But then all of a sudden, the Michael Ryder we knew was in there somewhere made an appearance at Madison Square Garden in that first preseason game of the season. Where has he been all of this time?
Ends up, it appears he may have found his missing link. As in, he found the perfect guy to play on his line. It wasn’t the Newfie line (which consisted of his Newfoundland teammate, Ryane Clowe) that was working. No. His missing link showed up in the form of AHL’s Albany Devils’ Reid Boucher.
Boucher made his appearance last season when he was called up to play in a few games with NJ. He was one of the only people to score in the shootout last year (which was another big issue-players weren’t scoring in the shootout, which meant the Devils would lose every single time the game went to the shootout). His mannerisms of being unafraid, articulate and a smart player brought to light that maybe it was time for him to make the jump to the big club. But it wasn’t to be last season.
This season, the club would be crazy not to give him a permanent roster spot, especially if he was able to bring Ryder out of his coma. On his own, the young forward has been proving in camp that he is indeed ready to make the jump.
Throw the two of these guys on a line with Adam Henrique, and the Devils have their third scoring line.
But all of this is to be seen over the coming weeks. It was just one preseason game. What Ryder brought to camp was last year’s Ryder. Was Monday night’s game a fluke or is the Ryder everyone knew was in there finally wake up? If the latter, I’d hand the VIP award to Reid Boucher right now. He’s the missing link the Devils have been looking for.