Nick Ritchie struggles in Bruins debut, but it'll take some time to fit in

Nick Ritchie struggles in Bruins debut, but it'll take some time to fit in

Nick Ritchie didn't play well in his Boston Bruins debut Tuesday night, but to be fair, most of his teammates gave a similarly lackluster performance against the Calgary Flames.

Ritchie did not score a goal, tally an assist or register a shot on goal in 14:17 of ice time. The Bruins were out shot 11-4 and outscored 2-0 during 5-on-5 play when Ritchie was on the ice. The physical forward did have seven hits, but that was more of an indication that the Bruins were chasing the play when he was in the game.

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Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was not shy about calling out his players following a 5-2 loss at TD Garden, but he wisely wants to see more of Ritchie before giving a real critique of his game.

"I thought he was fine," Cassidy told reporters when asked about Ritchie's debut. "I’m not going to judge him on a... he flew in here yesterday. He’s trying to get acclimated. There has to be a decent amount of period before we see what we got, and then go from there. I’d rather not, I’d rather watch some tape and see if, did he finish checks, did he get inside?

"Some of the details he’s going to bring to us. Rather look at the whole group, and we just did not have our — the guys we rely on to play, play well, had a tougher time tonight. And it kind of showed up in the end."

Cassidy made the decision to give Ritchie the first shift of the game, and the chance to develop some chemistry on the third line alongside Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork. The Flames held a 5-1 edge in shot attempts, a 3-0 advantage in shots on goal and a 1-0 lead in goals scored against the Ritchie-Coyle-Bjork line at 5-on-5. This Bruins line also created zero 5-on-5 scoring chances in 4:57 of ice time together.

"Listen, you give him a chance to start. He’s going to get on the ice eventually anyway," Cassidy said. "That was, they just had (Matthew) Tkachuk and (Milan) Lucic, so you put him out there in case if they want — I think Looch is more about being a body, playing here than anything. But if they want to play that type of game early, then we want to be prepared for it and have (Zdeno Chara) back there as well and be ready to bang.

"But that was the thinking there, certain matchups you’re looking for throughout the game. To be honest with you, I don’t know that we ever truly got them tonight where they were in our favor."

Ritchie doesn't have to score goals to be effective. He's doing his job if he's aggressive on the forecheck, winning puck battles to maintain possession and getting to the front of the net where he can screen the opposing goalie. We didn't see much of those things from Ritchie against the Flames, but fortunately for him and the Bruins, they'll be right back on Garden ice Thursday night against another Western Conference contender in the Dallas Stars.

Cassidy blasts B's: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

Bruins' Brad Marchand voted best AND worst trash-talker in NHL players' poll

Bruins' Brad Marchand voted best AND worst trash-talker in NHL players' poll

Anytime you speak with Brad Marchand about trash-talking around the NHL these days, it’s a lament that nobody talks out on the ice anymore.

Some of that is probably due to players wearing on-ice microphones more often these days for NHL or team productions, and some of it is because referees tend to shut down verbal warfare pretty quickly as well. 

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Marchand continues to try his best to keep NHL trash-talking alive, however, and that’s reflected in his selection as the NHL’s top trash-talker in the annual poll released by the NHL Players Association.

Here's what No. 63 said in a Players Tribune article he wrote in 2018 that still stands as pretty relevant now when it comes to Marchand and his on-ice chirping:

I have done things that have stepped over that line, and I've paid the price for it. But you know what? There's a lot of people out there in the hockey world who love to say, 'Winning is everything. It's the only thing.' But do they really mean it? How far are they willing to go? Maybe it was my size, or just the way I was born, but I've always felt like you have to be willing to do anything -- literally anything -- in order to win. Even if that means being hated. Even if it means carrying around some baggage. If I played the game any other way, you absolutely would not know my name. You wouldn't care enough to hate me, because I wouldn't be in the NHL.

Oddly Marchand was also voted the NHL’s worst trash-talker as well, which is probably based on the nearly 600 NHL players that voted totally missing the point of the poll question.

Marchand finished with 25.87 percent of the vote while Drew Doughty (13.37 percent), Ryan Reaves (11.05 percent) and Patrick Maroon (3.78 percent) lagged behind him in the poll of all NHL players while Marchand, Doughty, PK Subban and Nick Cousins ranked as the worst trash-talkers.

Clearly, Marchand has so many NHL players rattled so much they don’t know whether he’s the best or the worst. So in acknowledgment of such an accomplishment, here are some of the greatest hit chirps from the Nose Face Killah:

  • “I played against him in the 2013 [Stanley Cup] Final and he was talking a lot, says anything to get you off your game. [He] even told me my kids were ugly once upon a time. I know he’s lying because my daughters are beautiful, but it had me thinking for a while. I only had one kid at the time, I was like ‘does he know something I don’t?’ –NBC analyst and former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on his run-ins with Marchand.





  • Brad Marchand and PK Subban dropped the gloves in the 2012-13 NHL regular season and had a pretty good rivalry going in Subban's days with the Montreal Canadiens. Here’s a snippet from back then: "Subban was asking me to fight. Three or four guys asked to fight him, and he's running scared. But he comes after the smallest guy on the team. It just shows you what kind of character they have there."



Bruins legend Bobby Orr's great feat from April 3, 1971 still hasn't been matched

Bruins legend Bobby Orr's great feat from April 3, 1971 still hasn't been matched

Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr hit a milestone on this date in 1971 that no defenseman in the NHL has been able to match.

Orr tallied his 100th assist of the 1970-71 season in an 8-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 3. It was the second-to-last game of the season, and Orr finished the year with 102 assists to lead the league. 

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Check out the graphic below for more information on Orr's record-breaking achievement.

Orr's offensive stats in 1970-71 set a few records.

Not only are his 102 assists the most ever by a defenseman in a single season, his 139 points also are a single-season best for a blueliner. Edmonton Oilers defenseman Paul Coffey came close to breaking both records in the 1985-86 campaign, but he finished with 90 assists and 138 points. Like Orr and the Bruins in 1971, the 1986 Oilers suffered a disappointing defeat to a hated rival in the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, both the 1971 Bruins and 1986 Oilers bounced back from those defeats and won the Stanley Cup the following season.

The only other players in league history to reach 100 or more assists in one season are Hall of Fame centers Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Gretzky accomplished the feat 11 times and Lemieux did it once. 

Orr's stats are incredible, and some of them might never be duplicated. This assist record easily could be one of them, especially when you consider the closest any defenseman has come to this Orr milestone in the last 20 years was Brent Burns with 83 assists in 2018-19.