Nick Ritchie’s run with the Boston Bruins is still in its infancy, and the big winger is to contribute any way possible, including using his fists.
Ritchie on Thursday night sparked the Black and Gold in the first period when he dropped the gloves with Florida Panthers defenseman Riley Stillman. After tangling in front of the net, the two agreed to give it a go after a faceoff, and Ritchie proved he’s one tough customer.
The Bruins forward was the clear winner, delivering a few thunderous right hands at the end of the bout, further endearing himself to his new teammates and coaches in the process.
“It was great,” said Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime. “He’s showing some bite, and that’s something the bottom six of our lineup needed with the size and willingness to go to battle. He’ll fit right in if he continues to do stuff like that. Obviously, very happy to have him, and it gave us a boost of energy.”
The fight was the eighth of Ritchie’s career, per HockeyFights.com, and that’s including preseason and the regular season. Standing 6-foot-2 and tipping the scales at 230 pounds, Ritchie obviously is a big human being who has shown in the past he can throw some hands. He confirmed as much Thursday night.
“You gotta see it firsthand sometime,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the game.
“Hats off to Stillman for trying to go that route, but I don’t know if he’s a fighter or not. If not, he’s in a bit over his head a little bit there. He came back and played, so that’s part of the game. They have an exchange in the corner, so he wants to stand up for himself. I have no problem with that.
“Just, Ritchie’s a big strong man and he can handle himself in those situations. That’s something we knew about him, and that still has value in the game, so, good for Ritch.”
It has been a mixed bag thus far for Ritchie in five games with Boston since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks, but his willingness to find new ways to contribute stands out and is obviously not lost on his new club.