Nick Ritchie delivered some lackluster play in the early stages of the first round, but his resulting banishment to the press box appears to be indefinite, not permanent.
Ritchie was acquired at the trade deadline to provide some sandpaper to the Bruins’ lineup. And while he was able to do that, it wasn’t all too necessary against more of a finesse team like the Carolina Hurricanes, who the Bruins finished off Wednesday in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series. It also didn’t help that defensive miscues from Ritchie were leading to opponent goals.
Now, the Bruins could run into the Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers or New York Islanders in the second round. And depending on which team they match up with, Ritchie’s presence might be necessary again.
Thus, team president Cam Neely isn’t ruling out a Ritchie return to the lineup.
“I think he’ll certainly contribute for us,” Neely told reporters Thursday over Zoom. “Especially if we go deep into the playoffs. It was a little different series. That was a fast team that we played in Carolina. Maybe not necessarily as physical. I think we’ll see Nick down the road, for sure.”
Ritchie was part of a slew of lineup changes when he went out, but it effectively was Jack Studnicka who replaced him — a vastly different brand of player.
Depending on the look up front that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy opts for next round, changes again could be on the way. And they might benefit Ritchie this time around.