The Boston Bruins are putting a beating on Toronto Maple Leafs -- in more ways than one.
With Boston already holding a 2-0 lead over Toronto late in the second period Saturday night at TD Garden, B's defenseman Brandon Carlo dropped the gloves with Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri for an entertaining fight.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that a team is going to win a Stanley Cup, obviously, and some of the big winners at the deadline are lousy teams loading up on draft picks and assets for the future.
Still, it’s better to be moving and shaking at the trade deadline like a Carolina Hurricanes team that added Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen than be a non-playoff team like the Wild that made one early Jason Zucker trade with Pittsburgh before closing their shutters for the week.
Before we begin: No, I have never gotten my ass kicked.
Celtics fans have a reputation for being sheep, but man, when it comes to predictability there isn’t a group of dummies easier to impress than Bruins fans.
Still haven't gotten my ass kicked. Probably getting closer, though.
All you have to do to win over the Bruin brigade is get someone tall and/or "physical." No one will be more willing to overlook actual effectiveness than B's fans. This is especially the case when swapping out a “softer” (though perhaps better) player.
Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes? Downgrade, but fans were ecstatic.
Use Loui Eriksson’s money to sign David Backes? Downgrade, catastrophic move, but fans were ecstatic.
But around here? Hoo boy, what a coup! We saw 6-foot-2, 234 pounds, 10th overall pick and a bunch of penalty minutes and dusted off Milan Lucic's 2011 jersey.
I'll admit that as soon as I heard the Bruins traded for Nick Ritchie, I was confused. I remembered his name from the draft, but was unaware that he'd become a good player. And if he was a good player, why was he being traded? He was surely still young, unless I'd misremembered.
Nope. He was drafted in 2014, same as Heinen. Had 14 goals as a rookie, but hasn't come close to that since. He does have eight goals in 41 games this season, but his shooting percentage this season is an absolute outlier for his career (11.4; his career shooting percentage prior was 8.3). His 19 points are aided by a four-point showing in his final game with the Ducks, the only multi-point game he's had this season.
He does have 78 penalty minutes, but none of them are from fights. Just misconducts and tripping players who skate past him because they're faster.
He was fifth on the Ducks in hits per 60, if you want to bring that up, but you shouldn't.
The same people who like the "hits" stat are often the ones who discredit possession metrics. But "hits" is unquestionably a possession metric. It means you don't have the puck. There is a reason that eight of the top 15 teams in the league in hits are non-playoff teams. They are chasing the play.
(And by the way, the Bruins are eighth in the league in hits. They absolutely don't need to "hit" more.)
So that's Ritchie in a nutshell; a not-so-good player, but I'm rooting for him. If his acquisition were met with an "eh, maybe he'll uncover something in Boston he hasn't been able to find before," this pretentious-ass column wouldn't be required.
But it wasn't, and here we are.
And I'll say that I was totally cool with moving Heinen. That guy's arrow was pointing in the wrong direction after an impressive rookie year and so-so sophomore campaign.
So I would have traded Heinen and some combination of picks and prospects for a sure thing. If Nick Ritchie and some cap savings (which you could get anyway by trading Heinen in the offseason) was the best I could do, I would have probably passed. Heinen is not much of a loss (not the way he's played this season, anyway), but Ritchie isn't much of a gain.
Maybe Ritchie does find new life in Boston. Maybe he becomes a good third-liner. Hell, maybe he scores early in Game 7 of the Cup Final when the other team's goalie is an absolute mess. That was the real reason the Bruins didn't win last year, not because they weren't tough enough.