Bruins management has responded to last night’s complete lack of response to their All-Star goaltender getting taken out with a punch to the head, and it has resulted in Bruins winger Brett Ritchie getting placed on waivers on Wednesday afternoon.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ritchie was in the lineup for Wednesday night’s 3-0 shutout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, and finished with a couple of shots on net and five registered hits.
What Ritchie didn’t do was anything resembling a physical response to Emil Bemstrom clocking Rask in the side of the head in the first couple of minutes in the game, whether it was challenging Bemstrom or going hard at the Columbus net in the aftermath.
Ritchie similarly didn’t do much in a Dec. 23 loss to the Washington Capitals where Caps skaters took runs at Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy and knocked both of them out of the game with injuries.
The big 26-year-old Ritchie was brought in as a free agent to bring some toughness, size and grit to the Bruins forward group that was clearly lacking it at times last season, most notably during the Stanley Cup Final loss to the St. Louis Blues.
He’s shown a couple of flashes of that in his stint with the Bruins this season, but not nearly enough to be the player that Boston clearly needs up front to protect teammates and instill a little fear into opponents.
Ritchie has two goals and six points along with a minus-3 rating in 27 games thus far and has failed to lock down a permanent niche in the lineup due to injuries and his own inconsistent, sometimes invisible level of play.
With an opening on the roster, the Bruins will most likely dip into Providence and could be about to recall 2016 first round pick Trent Frederic, who is leading the AHL with 102 penalty minutes this season to go along with five goals and 20 points.
Not only would the 22-year-old Frederic provide some of the physicality and attitude that the Bruins are lacking right now, but he’s also coming into his own as a potential bottom-6 center or wing possibility who could really help the Bruins.
Certainly the Bruins could go in a different direction and bring up Karson Kuhlman now playing in Providence after coming from his leg injury, but the waiving of Ritchie sure feels like a reaction to what played out on the ice in Columbus on Tuesday night.