Bruins

Bruins-Stars Talking Points: Nick Ritchie as advertised in big win over Dallas

Bruins-Stars Talking Points: Nick Ritchie as advertised in big win over Dallas

GOLD STAR: Nick Ritchie showed his physicality on Tuesday night and showed off the skill that made him a top-10 pick in the draft in Thursday night’s win over the Stars.

Ritchie scored a second period goal on his first shot as a member of the Bruins after collecting a loose puck in the high slot and firing it through traffic on its way past Ben Bishop. Then, Ritchie teamed with David Pastrnak on a give-and-go play where he fed No. 88 at the post for a tap-in goal that showed off the big winger’s smooth hands for a power forward-type player.

Ritchie finished with two shot attempts, three hits and a pair of blocked shots to go along with a plus-1 rating in 12:59 of ice time, and continues to show the ability to win battles along the boards and serve as a big body in front of the net. He looks as advertised a couple of games into his Bruins career.

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BLACK EYE: Alex Radulov didn’t even register a blip on the radar screen for the Stars as he finished with zero shots on net while on ice for a pair of goals against in 13:49 of ice time.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn at least both picked up assists in the loss for Dallas while showing a little offensive production, but Radulov was a passenger while doing next-to-nothing in defeat. Radulov is having a so-so season with the Stars while sitting at 15 goals and 33 points, but it was far from his “A” game against the Bruins on Thursday night.

Then there’s the literal black eye that Joe Pavelski probably received after getting hammered by a flurry of right-handed punches from David Krejci before the referees were able to break things up.

TURNING POINT: It was very clearly the fight between Krejci and Pavelski in the second period where Krejci had decided enough was enough with the Stars forward. Krejci got tangled up with Pavelski in front of the net and the gloves came flying off both players before the Bruins center landed a number of right-handed punches on him.

The Bruins seemed to play with more intensity and energy following the fisticuffs from Krejci and scored a pair of goals to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on the evening. For a player that was criticized for not playing hard enough following Tuesday night’s loss, Krejci had a big response this time around in his first fight since dropping the gloves with Benoit Pouliot during the 2010-11 season.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak continues to push the envelope offensively and that’s what he did in scoring his 46th goal of the season on Thursday night. Pastrnak sped the puck up the ice all by himself, dished quickly to Nick Ritchie and then cut to the net before the power forward dished it back to him for the tap-in goal at the post.

Pastrnak finished with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 17:16 of ice time while registering four shots on net and eight shot attempts overall. More importantly, Pastrnak had zero giveaways in the game and managed the puck while making his usual array of dazzling plays in the offensive zone.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of shots on net in a Bruins uniform that it took for both Ritchie brothers to score goals, and with both of those goals coming against the Stars.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We responded. They were aware that it wasn’t our best. We needed to be better and we were tonight.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the B’s bouncing back after back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Calgary. 

Tuukka Rask 'hasn't made any decisions' on his long-term Bruins future

Tuukka Rask 'hasn't made any decisions' on his long-term Bruins future

Tuukka Rask finally addressed an interview he gave weeks ago where he mused about retiring at the end of his current contract following next season, and brought a little more clarity to the situation.

The 33-year-old Bruins goaltender was on the Greg Hill Show on WEEI on Tuesday morning and made it clear no decisions have been about his future beyond the 2020-21 season that he’s still signed for in Boston. Rask was on track for a Vezina Trophy-level season this year when things were put on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak and was leading the NHL with a 2.12 goals against average while ranking second in the league with a .929 save percentage.

So it’s clear that Rask has still got more than one or two good years left if he wanted to keep on playing in Boston beyond his current deal.

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“Listen, I remember the interview if you can even call it an interview. This [Boston Globe] reporter asked me some questions right after practice when I was packing my bag, and all I said was my contract’s up (in 2021) so every option is on the table,” said Rask. “I haven’t made any decisions on any direction yet, obviously we’re not even playing hockey right now, so that’ll be in the future. But it’s definitely not in my mind right now, just trying to take care of the family now and go back to hockey whenever that happens and then go from there.

“I’m sure we’re going to have good conversations with (Don Sweeney) after this season and go from there. But I’m only 34, so it’s not too old, might play another year or two and go from there. I don’t want to promise anything either way because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Given the high level that Rask is currently playing at, his current $7 million per season contract wouldn’t be an outrageous ask without knowing how the current coronavirus work stoppage is going to impact the overall salary cap picture.

Clearly nothing is set in stone and perhaps the retirement talk is as much about contract leverage the next time around as anything else. But it still puts the Bruins in a tough position following this season if they don’t have any certainty when it comes to the future with Rask. They could re-sign Jaroslav Halak to an extension following this season and continue to hope to ride things out with a great goaltending duo while shelling out nearly $10 million for both goalies.

But the Bruins may also need to quickly groom a new No. 1 goalie if Rask is a question mark for the long-term future in Boston. Halak certainly doesn’t feel that guy at this point in his NHL career while in his mid-30s as well.

That may push the Bruins to install Dan Vladar, Jeremy Swayman or Kyle Keyser as Rask’s backup for next season to evaluate exactly what they currently have inside the organization should things change drastically.

Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to Rask’s future in Boston. But even with his mild assurances that nothing is set in stone, the Bruins will have to be prepared that it’s not a lock the No. 1 goalie will remain with the Bruins beyond his current contract.

Zdeno Chara admits 'it's hard to look at' the NHL stoppage based on Bruins chances

Zdeno Chara admits 'it's hard to look at' the NHL stoppage based on Bruins chances

As the oldest player in the NHL, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara doesn't really know when his last chance to win another Stanley Cup will come.

It might have been last season when the 43-year-old Chara led the B’s to within a Game 7 of winning a Stanley Cup against the St. Louis Blues only to brutally come up just short. Then again, it looked like Chara and the Bruins had another solid chance this year while leading the entire NHL with 100 points with roughly a month left to go in the regular season.

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Then, things were put on pause due to a coronavirus outbreak that has brought the entire world to a standstill.

For aging players like Chara, 34-year-old Patrice Bergeron, 33-year-old David Krejci and 33-year-old Tuukka Rask, this season might be their last, best chance to win another Stanley Cup before the championship window perhaps begins to close on the Black and Gold.

Chara was asked how much that was on his mind as he sits in his Florida home with his wife and children while waiting out the coronavirus outbreak with no real knowledge as to when, or if, hockey will be back around the NHL this season.

Clearly his mind is on the seriousness of the situation, as the priority is on getting people through the next few weeks when the outbreak could be at its most intense in the US. But Chara also said the unknown of it all with this season is more than a little disconcerting.

“It is obviously one of those situations that you can’t really control. Right now we all have to look after each other and look after our families,” said Chara, on a Zoom webinar conference call with reporters organized by the NHL on Monday afternoon. “I know it’s kind of a cliché answer in these days, but hockey is really secondary. If you have to look at it that way then, yeah, it’s kind of hard to look at the pause on the league at the stage where we were at.

“With only a few games until the playoffs and so close to the playoffs with the team playing well and with confidence, we were obviously in a good place. But who knows? We can’t always wish for the perfect situation. These types of situations do happen once in a while. Hopefully we play again and we’ll see when that’s going to be.”

With places like California, New York City and Florida getting hit hardest by the coronavirus right now, even a conference call with hockey players was about thanking medical personnel, first responders and other people stepping into the breach right now.

“These are strange times. There are challenges we’re all facing right now. Most of us are away from the things we love to do. The things we don’t have to work, to play and to entertain people. Hopefully we get through this. A huge, big thank you has to go to the medical professionals, the people that are volunteering and the people that are delivering food,” said Chara. “It just takes time. We have to stay patient, and safe, and disciplined. There is no other way to do it, but to do it together.”

The words are inspiring for the longest-running captain in the NHL and one of the best leaders of his generation in all of pro sports. Hopefully, Chara and the Bruins get that chance to see good they can be in the playoffs over the next four months with an NHL that’s going to do everything they can to make sure there is a postseason conclusion to a 2019-20 regular season that had been almost entirely played out.