|Bruins winger Michael Ryder. (Getty)|
WILMINGTON -- It's been a long wait for the 2011 postseason to get underway for the Boston Bruins.
For nearly a calendar year now, the Black and Gold have anxiously anticipated their shot at redemption. They made it through training camp. They travled through Europe. They survived a grueling, 82-game schedule in order to get to this very moment.
It's a lot of fun to be in the playoffs and this is what we play for," winger Michael Ryder said. "It's the most exciting time of the year."
Ryder and the Bruins will be looking to avenge their postseason failures over the last two springs, both of which ended in indescribably devastating fashion.
Following a regular season in which they fell just short of capturing the President's Trophy as the best team in all of hockey, the Bruins breezed right on by the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs, sweeping their historic rivals in convincing fashion.
But, in a series in which they were heavily favored, Boston was bounced by the Hurricanes in Game 7 of the second round, thanks to an overtime tally by Scott Walker.
Folks throughout the Hub of Hockey likely thought it couldn't get more painful than that, but were not-so-pleasantly surprised to learn they were wrong just one year later, as the Bruins coughed up their now-infamous, 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I think we definitely learned a lot of things from the last two years," said Ryder. "It was disappointing and frustrating. You've got to forget it, but at the same time keep it in mind to improve and keep that from happening again.
"We definitely grew from it and learned, and I think we're a better team after going through it."
As for getting by the Canadiens once again, a team for which Ryder played and helped eliminate Boston during a first-round matchup back in 2008, the Newfoundland native -- as do many of his teammates -- knows that the B's best course of action is to simply do what they do best.
"I just think we have to play our game," Ryder said. "We can't really get off track. We have to stick to our identity and not fall into the other team's traps. We have to do what has given us success all year."
So, too, must the Bruins take stock of what hasn't worked in previous postseasons in order to be successful in this go-round.
"It's frustrating to even think about it," Ryder said of Boston's previous playoff exits. "But it gave us a lot of character in here and we want to take that into this year."