Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/8/11
Michael Ryder had a pair of goals for the Dallas Stars in their 5-2 win over Washington on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center in the nation's capital. That performance comes on the heels of a three-point showing (one goal, two assists) in Sunday's 5-2 win at Carolina and a two-assist performance in a wild 7-6 overtime win over Colorado last Friday in front of the home fans at the American Airlines Center. This trio of strong offensive showings gives the ex-Bruin seven points in his last three games, which gives him 11 points through the Stars' first 14 games. One of the reasons why Ryder, a member of Boston's 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team, was brought in during the off-season by Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk was to help offset the loss of All-Star center Brad Richards, the focal point of the Stars offense the last two seasons, who signed with the New York Rangers during free agency. At least early on, the numbers weren't there as Ryder had just 4 points in his first 11 games with the Stars. He was part of a line also featuring Steve Ott at center and Dallas captain Brenden Morrow on the other wing. But more recently, the 31-year-old winger has been moved to a line featuring Jamie Benn at center and 2011 NHL All-Star Loui Eriksson manning the other wing and it's a trio that has been delivering some strong results of late. Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan was forced to shake things up a bit with the recent hip injury suffered by Ott, so he decided to put Ryder alongside Benn and Eriksson and thus far, it's a trio that has worked quite well for Dallas. However, it's not like there was a huge concern when the six-foot winger wasn't getting many points through his first 11 games. After all, Ryder's season did extend well into June and while it did end the way every NHL player wants it to end, with a drink or two from Lord Stanley's bowl, it was still a hectic and somewhat truncated off-season for him. Add in the fact that he was changing teams in the off-season and coming to a Dallas team where there was not only a new head coach in Gulutzan but a new philosophy and energy surrounding the team and it was almost expected that Ryder would require some time to acclimate to his new surroundings. One thing that aided his transition to Big D was the fact that there were at least two members of the Stars roster he was already familiar with in Ribeiro and defenseman Sheldon Souray, both of whom he had played with in Montreal during the 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons. So, when one considers what a short off-season he had along with the fact he had to come to a new team, get accustomed to playing for a new head coach as well as acclimating himself with the various nuances of his new teammates, Ryder is basically on if not ahead of schedule. And while some Stars fans might have wondered at least initially if the ex-Bruin was going to post some decent numbers, his new head coach wasn't at all concerned with his slow start. That's because he saw the Newfoundland native for what he was, someone who had yet to reach his full potential. "Ryds is one of my favorite guys because I think Ryds hasn't reached his complete potential with us yet. It's funny because you look at that whole Boston team that played so fabulous for two months and that team hasn't reached their potential. I don't think Ryds has with us either," Gulutzan said. "I think we're going to see him really blossom here. I think Michael Ryder's best games are in front of him. He's a good player. You can see it in practice. Once he gets back to the top of his level, he's going to be a big contributor for us. I think he's played well but he's got more too." If this recent three-game stretch is any indication, then Gulutzan's words are already proving to be prophetic in nature. One thing's for sure, Ryder's recent performances illustrate exactly why Nieuwendyk and the club's others powers that be brought him to Dallas. He's a guy with a great nose for the net and who can deliver a goal or an assist when his team needs it the most. In short, he's a guy soon to be a huge fan favorite among the Stars faithful and hey, if he happens to help the club end its current three-year playoff draught, then he could quickly become a household name in his new city.
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