When most players go on goalless streaks, they try to get to the “dirty areas” of the ice to get on track, hoping a greasy goal will be what they need.
Nick Ritchie plays his game in the dirty areas naturally, so it’s kind of tough for him to change his style for a stretch in hopes of snapping a drought.
Thus, the Boston Bruins third-line winger finds himself in a challenging spot. After a hot start to the season in which he was one of the B’s most steady scorers, water has found its level He last scored a goal on March 30, and has three goals since the beginning of March.
Following the trade deadline, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy shifted Ritchie to a line with Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk, two players who have been snakebitten at different points themselves this season.
That, Cassidy theorized, could be among the reasons Ritchie has been a bit quieter offensively.
“Well, the 5-on-5, their line has had pockets of good offense,” Cassidy said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “Other times they’re still getting to know one another, that’s one line that was thrown together — I’m not sure there’s been a real pair together for a while. I know Coyle and Ritchie played together in camp and Coyle a bit with DeBrusk at times, so there’s going to be a little bit of getting to know one another.
“I think all three of them have had some tough luck around the net, so hopefully it breaks for them, but they’ve just got to keep finding their game. The other lines in front of them are scoring, they’re still getting some looks. And I still think that No. 1 power-play unit hasn’t cashed in in a while, Ritchie’s part of that too. I think at the beginning of the year, we were doing a better job getting pucks in around the top of the crease, teams are pressuring us out a little more now, we’re having a tougher time handling that, beating that pressure and getting the puck to the net where he plays.
“So, some of it is just the way it’s working out, and, obviously, some of the onus goes on the player to sort of will their way to a few more offensive opportunities, if you will, and that’s kind of where Ritchie’s at.”
As Cassidy alludes to, the Bruins are getting scoring from their other lines right now, so it’s not like they’re living and dying with Ritchie lighting the lamp. But for a team that at times has struggled to find secondary scoring, getting Ritchie back to the pace he was at to start the season could be a lift.
Through 43 games this season, Ritchie still has 10 goals and as many assists.
Ritchie’s next chance to get on track will be Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on NESN+.