Bruins

Bruins will be in the market for a goalie come July 1, but it's not what you think

Bruins will be in the market for a goalie come July 1, but it's not what you think

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Word that the Bruins would be in the goaltending market on the July 1 open of NHL free agency apparently sent some factions of the B’s fan base and the media into a frenzy that something big was happening with Tuukka Rask or Jaroslav Halak.

Don Sweeney confirmed the Bruins would be in the goaltender market with a simple “yes” when asked about it, but left the door open for hot take speculation when he didn’t really expand on that answer.

While perhaps that would have been a reasonable assumption given Boston’s currently salary cap situation where their $12 million should be just enough to sign their own restricted free agents, it’s not what’s going on. Instead, the Bruins are in the goalie market because 26-year-old Zane McIntyre is a Group 6 unrestricted free agent, and because McIntyre really hasn’t been very good (.898 save percentage in 46 games for the P-Bruins last season) for the Black and Gold over the last couple of years either.

So the B’s are in the market for a free agent goaltender, but it’s more along the lines of a No. 3 goalie in the organization that can be the veteran alternative to young guys Daniel Vladar and Kyle Keyser at the AHL level.

Sweeney pretty much confirmed this when he talked about a potentially heavy workload for Halak early next season while the Bruins give Tuukka Rask enough rest after his two-plus months of playoff-intensity, high-stress workload.

“We’ll probably be more cognizant of [getting veteran players some rest] come September and be in a better place and be in a real good place come October because you can’t play uphill. You start on the road, and as I said, you move forward. You have to focus on what’s absolutely necessary,” said Sweeney. “I think we referenced that [Jaroslav] Halak will be part of that. If you’re really good that you’ll be in a real good spot coming out and maybe he takes the ball earlier in the year. But again, that depends on where Tuukka’s [Rask] at.”

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Sorry, Bruins fans: bigger doesn't always mean better

Sorry, Bruins fans: bigger doesn't always mean better

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.

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We got another installment this week on deadline day when the Bruins traded Danton Heinen to the Ducks for Nick Ritchie in a swap of disappointing 24-year-old left wings.  

The national reaction was not kind to Ritchie. The NHL Network's panel was particularly brutal in calling him in an overweight underachiever. 

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. 

Nick Ritchie set to make Bruins debut tonight; Ondrej Kase sitting out

Nick Ritchie set to make Bruins debut tonight; Ondrej Kase sitting out

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins will get a look at one-half of the two new players brought in at the trade deadline as big, physical winger Nick Ritchie will be in the B’s lineup against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Ritchie got into Boston around 10 p.m. last night after a coast-to-coast flight from California and will play on the left wing alongside big-bodied Charlie Coyle and speedy Anders Bjork in a new-look third line.

The pairing of the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Ritchie with the equally big-bodied Coyle gives the third line a bruising, heavy dimension that they haven’t had as of late, and brings some interesting options to the table for Bruce Cassidy's club.

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“He’s a big-bodied guy that’s played in the league. He should be able to come in and contribute with a net-front presence, a good shot and better hands than he’s maybe gotten credit for,” said Cassidy of Ritchie, who scored two goals and four points in a Sunday night game against the Golden Knights. “We had some discussions with people in Anaheim about what he can bring and his best attributes, and we’ll try to get that out of him. He’s a tough guy, so he certainly takes care of that part of the game.”

While Ritchie is going to play in his first chance with the Black and Gold, right winger Ondrej Kase is going to sit out Tuesday night in favor of Karson Kuhlman as he continues to recover from a suspected concussion that’s had him out of the lineup since Feb. 7.

Kase may get back into the lineup on Thursday night in a tilt against the Dallas Stars, but Cassidy wanted the skilled 24-year-old to get into a few practices before suiting up for game action.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Flames based on Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Karson Kuhlman
Nick Ritchie Charlie Coyle Anders Bjork
Sean Kuraly Par Lindholm Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Jeremy Lauzon

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask