Nick Ritchie hoping to bring his 'big game' to Bruins after trade

Nick Ritchie hoping to bring his 'big game' to Bruins after trade

BRIGHTON, Mass. — In theory, the Bruins are getting a very Bruins-type of player with the acquisition of the 6-foot-2, 234-pound, hard-hitting Nick Ritchie from the Anaheim Ducks.

The 24-year-old Ritchie is a former Top 10 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft who has never quite lived up to that level during his time in Anaheim, but he has averaged 11 goals and 29 points for a paltry Ducks offense while on pace for 12 goals and 28 points in Anaheim this season.

Ritchie has thrown more hits than Zdeno Chara this season in terms of the physicality department, and his size, strength and heavy play was a needed quality among a B’s forward group that’s a little too small and too skill-oriented right now.

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Ritchie was dealt in exchange for Bruins winger Danton Heinen, and comes to the B’s with more goals, points per game and twice as many hits as Heinen, who never quite lived up to the promise of his rookie season in Boston.

The expectation is that Ritchie is going to get playing time right away on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork, and that could bring a whole different level of puck possession, heaviness and physicality to Boston’s third line. That kind of size could wear down opponents in a playoff series and certainly the bulk of Coyle and Ritchie together will open space for Bjork to operate with his speed and skill game.

Ritchie said he’s hoping to play “the big game,” which should be music to Bruins fans’ ears after both of Boston’s big-bodied forwards, Brett Ritchie (Nick’s older brother) and David Backes, were cleared off the Boston roster a month ago.

“That’s what I do, I drive to the net and win puck battles and hopefully can bring in a few [pucks] down and around the net,” said Ritchie, who expects to wear No. 21 for the Bruins when he arrives. “Hopefully I can help the team here and I’m going to take pride in playing that big game, winning battles, playing physical and driving to the net.”

Ritchie isn’t going to be an enforcer-type as he hasn’t dropped the gloves since doing it twice during the 2017-18 season, but there no shortage of examples of Ritchie playing a nasty physical game including this hit he threw on Backes in Boston a couple of seasons ago.

It remains to be seen if Ritchie is going to be enough against teams like the Capitals, Lightning and even the Blues if both teams are lucky enough to get to the Cup Final again, but the B’s could definitely use more of the “big game” Ritchie wants to bring to the table.

Bruce Cassidy, ex-Bruins teammates stunned by news of Colby Cave's coma

Bruce Cassidy, ex-Bruins teammates stunned by news of Colby Cave's coma

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy first got to know Colby Cave when he was the Providence Bruins coach and Cave arrived in the AHL as a 20-year-old from Saskatchewan in 2015.

So, the news that Cave, now with the Edmonton Oilers, is in a medically induced coma and in critical condition at a Toronto hospital after he had a brain bleed Tuesday and subsequent surgery was particularly jarring to Cassidy and Cave's former B's teammates.

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Cassidy told Joe McDonald of The Athletic that he and Cave's former teammates and coaches are working on get-well video messages for Cave, who had surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

Cassidy said his wife, Julie, had spoken to Cave's wife, Emily.

“It’s very difficult for her because she can’t get in the room and give him a hug, or anything,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said that despite the coma, he's hopeful that Cave can perhaps hear the messages. “Anything we can do. Every little bit helps and if we can chip in with some encouraging words then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Jay Leach, Cave's coach in Providence after Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in Boston, told the Athletic, “There’s no one better than Colby Cave with regards to being a person and the way he treats other people."

Cave played 23 games for Boston from 2017-19 and was put on the Bruins top line with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand to fill in for Patrice Bergeron when Bergeron was injured in the 2018-19 season. When Cave was sent back to Providence, he didn't clear waivers and was claimed by the Oilers in January 2019.

Another former Bruin, Noel Acciari of the Florida Panthers, who played with Cave in Boston and Providence,  echoed Cassidy and Leach's sentiments.

"He’s who you want on your team," Acciari said. "It’s a terrible thing what has happened to him, but he’s a fighter and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his loved ones.”

Torey Krug has funny details about what he misses from Bruins' locker room

Torey Krug has funny details about what he misses from Bruins' locker room

Torey Krug is comfortably living in his home state of Michigan with his in-laws, his wife, his daughter and his dog right now amidst the coronavirus outbreak and doing his best to stay in shape while running outdoors and working out indoors.

There was no denying, though, that the Bruins defenseman is still adjusting to the abrupt pause button applied to the NHL regular season with about a month left to play ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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“As hockey players along with most people, you’re going to feel a little lost in this situation,” admitted Krug. “But first and foremost, we need to park that and put it aside and realize that there is something bigger [going on] here. If we do have the opportunity to get back playing, then let’s be safe and let’s be smart. Whether it’s the health and safety of the players of jumping right back into hockey from a competitive standpoint or continuing to practice the social distancing cues that we’ve been given, nobody wants to jump back into a situation where we put a bunch of people in one area and it takes off again.

“I hope everyone is staying safe. In some way, shape or form I think we are all connected by the coronavirus. Whether it’s somebody you know or a family member, we’re all in this together. It’s a tough situation, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, hopefully we’ll see each other sooner rather than later.”

Krug has fully recovered from the upper body injury he suffered right before the season stopped and has settled into a routine every day to keep a sense of normalcy, so those are good things amidst a troubling time. But he also voiced just how much he’s missing all his Bruins teammates while confined to the current limbo everybody is living through until the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The picture he painted inside the B’s dressing room was a humorous one, but it also underscored just how much everybody across the country is missing out on their normal day-to-day activities while rightly practicing self-quarantining and social distancing. Krug was quick to say he doesn’t miss getting chirped daily by Brad Marchand, but he does miss many, many other things around the Bruins dressing room after the B’s players scattered.

“It’s just the normal silly stuff that we go back and forth. I’m sure I’ll get chirped for how I look on this video. Anytime something funny comes up we put it in the chat just to keep that bond going,” said Krug, of the group texting that he and his teammates are engaged in right now while spread out from each other. “We do miss the guys and that’s part of the back and forth every day. I just miss the simple conversations.

[I miss] seeing what Pasta is wearing when we walks through the [dressing room] door. [I miss] wondering what kind of mood Chris Wagner is going to be in. Or seeing Chucky [McAvoy] and his big smile walking through the door every day. Trying to make sense of what comes out of Jake DeBrusk’s mouth. There are just so many things that you miss on a daily basis [with the season on pause].

Hopefully for Krug and the rest of the Bruins, the world will soon be in a place where those day-to-day conversations can once again take place in person rather than over video conference technology as it’s been for the last month.