BOSTON — The Boston Bruins now have their first post-trade deadline game under their belt.
It could have gone better.
Boston dropped a 5-2 decision to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at TD Garden. The B’s made a pair of acquisitions ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks. Kase currently is on injured reserve but might return somewhat soon, while Ritchie made his Bruins debut against the Flames.
The 24-year-old winger was on the ice for two of Calgary’s goals, and finished his night with a team-high seven hits (the next closest Bruin in hit totals was Brad Marchand with three). He logged 19 shifts and ultimately played 14:17.
Here are some notes, observations and thoughts on his performance.
— Ritchie started on the third line left wing with Anders Bjork on the right and Charlie Coyle between them. That line pretty much was stagnant, especially offensively, until Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy changed things up and put him with David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman during the second period.
Just how bad was that Ritchie-Coyle Bjork line? Well…
TOI — 4:57
Corsi For — 1
Corsi Against — 5
Goals For — 0
Goals Against — 1
TOI — 1:52
Corsi For — 3
Corsi Against — 0
Goals For — 0
Goals Against — 0 https://t.co/6bqmvny0HX
— Logan Mullen (@ByLoganMullen) February 26, 2020
That was through just two periods.
Ultimately, the Ritchie-Krejci-Kuhlman line posted fives in Corsi for and against (with no goals for or against) in 5:45 ice time.
— It’ll be interesting to see where Cassidy puts Ritchie next. Ondrej Kase likely will get a shot on the second line with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, so a lot of this is riding on Ritchie working out with Coyle and Bjork (or whoever the other winger is).
Ritchie deserves the benefit of the doubt considering he got to Boston about 24 hours before he made his debut and was thrown right into a new system, so he’ll probably need a little bit of time to settle in.
— It seemed like Cassidy was pulling off a nice gesture by having Ritchie’s line start the game. As a result, Ritchie was introduced with the starting lineups and got a nice reception.
After the game, Cassidy revealed it actually was in part because Milan Lucic and Matthew Tkachuk were starting the game for Calgary that he decided to put Ritchie and his linemates out there.
“Listen, you give him a chance to start. He’s going to get on the ice eventually anyway,” Cassidy said. “That was, they just had Tkachuk and Lucic, so you put him out there in case if they want — I think Looch is more about being a body, playing here than anything. But if they want to play that type of game early, then we want to be prepared for it and have (Zdeno Chara) back there as well and be ready to bang. But that was the thinking there, certain matchups you’re looking for throughout the game. To be honest with you, I don’t know that we ever truly got them tonight where they were in our favor.”
Of course, Ritchie wasn’t brought into Boston to be a complete goon — he hasn’t had a fighting major since 2018. But it’s notable that Cassidy right off the jump felt he could turn to Ritchie in the event the Flames wanted to play that type of game.
— Speaking of Lucic, Ritchie’s first real impact on the game was a collision with the former Bruins winger.
It didn’t seem like Ritchie necessarily made a deliberate hit on Lucic, but the two did bang bodies at the top of Boston’s offensive zone. And while Ritchie, who was the one stepping into the hit, didn’t go down, Lucic did after wobbling for a second.
— Ritchie had said in a post-morning skate interview with Bruins.com’s Eric Russo that he liked getting to the net, and he’s not kidding.
The 6-foot-2, 230 pound winger camped out in front of David Rittich, spending quite a bit of time in the light blue paint or just above it. He also indicated he has a penchant for driving the net, something he also made sure to do in his debut.
At one point, Ritchie darted to the net from the corner boards, but was dispossessed before he could get a shot off.
— Given Ritchie’s size, he’s not too bad of a skater. However, it seems like it takes him a little bit of time to accelerate and really get going, which might play a role in Cassidy deciding what line he ultimately finds a home on.
— Overall, it wasn’t a head-turning effort from Ritchie, but it seems like Cassidy is going to go back and watch film before judging the newcomer.
“I thought he was fine,” Cassidy said. “I’m not going to judge him on a — he flew in here yesterday. He’s trying to get acclimated. There has to be a decent amount of period before we see what we got, and then go from there. I’d rather not, I’d rather watch some tape and see if, did he finish checks, did he get inside? Some of the details he’s going to bring to us. Rather look at the whole group, and we just did not have our — the guys we rely on to play, play well, had a tougher time tonight. And it kind of showed up in the end.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images