By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins have taken their time with Brett Ritchie's return to the lineup.
In and out of the lineup throughout the year due to lingering issues with an infection, the Bruins' attempts to get Ritchie back into game-shape have paid off to the tune of the 6-foot-4 winger's return to the lineup for Saturday's meeting with the Avs.
"[Ritchie]'s been working really hard in practice, he looks good," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. "The good thing about him is it hasn't been a really serious injury that's kept him out, but unfortunately not enough reps, so we're not sure on chemistry. But hopefully this is it and it works itself out because it's a question we want answered one way or another."
While it's confirmed that Ritchie will return, the Boston player exiting the lineup to make room for No. 18 remains unknown, as Cassidy said that the team had players were feeling unwell, but would not reveal who.
Ritchie has two goals and four points, along with 42 hits, in 15 games with the Bruins this season.
Jaroslav Halak is expected to get the start in the Boston crease. Halak made 24 saves in a 2-0 shutout win over the Hurricanes this past Tuesday, and enters this contest with a 7-1-3 record and .934 save percentage on the year.
Colorado is expected to counter with Philipp Grubauer. The Avalanche starter stopped 38-of-39 in a Dec. 4 win over the Maple Leafs, and has a 10-5-2 record and .916 save percentage in 17 starts this season.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (lower-body) skated in a red non-contact sweater at Friday's practice, but will remain out of action for the seventh straight contest. The Avs, meanwhile, will be without center (and Boston nemesis) Nazem Kadri.
This will conclude the season series in The Ray Bourque Rivalry, and will be the first meeting since the Avalanche defeated the B's by a 4-2 final in their Oct. 10 head-to-head which saw the Bruins have two goals wiped off the board by video review.
And a weird fun fact for you: The Bruins have not defeated the Avalanche in regulation on Boston ice since Mar. 30, 1998. Anson Carter scored a pair of goals and Byron Dafoe made 19 saves in the winning effort in that one.