Time for Bruins to bench Nick Ritchie, with someone ready to fight


As enjoyable as any Stanley Cup Playoff game undoubtedly is, there is also time for evaluation and improvement.

It’ll be a quick run time for the Boston Bruins after scoring a 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday afternoon in the Toronto Bubble at Scotiabank Arena, and that won’t leave much. time for the Bruins’ coaches to break things up. down. The biggest decision will be who they should go between the pipes with – Tuukka Rask in a back-to-back situation or secondary goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak.

There’s good reason to go with either of them already 1-0 over Carolina in the best of seven series.

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But there are other decisions to be made, and the one the Bruins should come to terms with starting in Game 2 Thursday is Nick Ritchie’s removal from the roster.

Ritchie entered this playoffs like a real question mark after playing just over a handful of games for the Bruins after hitting the Anaheim trade deadline in exchange for Danton Heinen.

In theory, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Ritchie would provide the physical boost needed for Boston’s roster and play the power play forward on the wing with tall, solid third-row center Charlie Coyle. But Ritchie simply played like a weak link in Boston’s overtime victory over the Hurricanes in his first real playoff experience with the Black and Gold.

Krejci lines dominate and other takeaways from the first game

The 24-year-old Ritchie finished without a shot on goal at 12:50 p.m. ice time with the Bruins on Wednesday and had four hits, sometimes taking the body against the Hurricanes. But he wasn’t near a big enough physical presence, and worse yet, he played a key role in a pair of goals against the Bruins while making mental and physical mistakes at crucial times.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t going to hammer anyone after a playoff win, but Ritchie’s poor performance certainly didn’t go unnoticed either.

” I think [the young guys] were looking after their own play. I think only one line was on the ice for a few goals and this is Bjork’s first playoff with us, Ritchie, ”Cassidy said, referring to the third row being on the ice. ice for a pair of goals against as well as Charlie Coyle’s goal in the second period. for Boston. ” [The veteran guys] were like ‘hey, listen to stuff going on. Let’s make sure we tighten things up next time. Keep playing your game. They have a big goal for us too, so there’s a bit of that communication with the new guys.

“We spoke to Lauzy [Jeremy Lauzon]. Charlie [McAvoy] had to go to the locker room for a second, so Lauzy had a few more changes. You fight and play. I think you must have the first couple [of playoff games] under your belt. Nobody is tearing anyone apart here. Now is not the time of year to do this. We try to motivate and encourage the guys for sure, but the players are good like that. This is why they are winners. [Ondrej] Kase is another guy, first game. I thought he was fantastic. He’s on pucks all night, played his game. Looked good. A beautiful game on [David] The goal of Krejci. That line was arguably – you still watch the tape, whatever tape is after, and it’s probably our most dangerous line tonight. So that’s something we’ve talked about. Secondary notation. Get a Charlie Coyle goal, third row.

In the first period, Ritchie gave up a play along the boards and moved away from Warren Foegele as the entire Bruins defenseman unit watched over the puck rather than working to get the puck out of the zone. Eventually it turned into a Joel Edmundson point shot from the climax that Ritchie couldn’t put a body ahead on his way to the net. But the bigger problem was that Ritchie was simply giving up a game when he was closest to being able to give defensive support on a game that ended up going badly.

It was Ritchie again in the third period who lost a battle along the boards to the much smaller Martin Necas who extended Carolina’s possession, and ultimately ended with Haydn Fleury scoring on a point with a Tuukka Armored rask in front.

In both cases, plateau battles were lost that resulted in pucks in the back of the Boston net. And if Ritchie isn’t even going to win the plateau battles, what’s the point of his size and strength?

Wednesday’s game was of course physical as a playoff opener, but it wasn’t too mean that you needed Ritchie for intimidation purposes. The Bruins would do much better to play with Karson Kuhlman’s quick, two-way play in Game 2 on the third row while sliding Anders Bjork to his natural left wing spot on the third row. That would give the Bruins a much faster third row that could better combat the speed and pressure the Hurricanes bring to the table against the Black and Gold.

Maybe a healthy scratch would also send the message that there is no room for him in the roster if he doesn’t decisively win his physical battles and play the size / strength combo that he was blessed as a hockey player. Either way, the Bruins should learn from some of the mistakes that didn’t end up costing them permanently in Game 1, and Ritchie did too much to stay in the Boston roster.


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