By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
There will be no waiting when it comes to seeing how Nick Ritchie fits in with the Boston Bruins, as the 24-year-old will suit up for the Black and Gold in Tuesday's head-to-head with the Calgary Flames at TD Garden.
"We’ll have to see where [Ritchie] best fits here," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy offered after his first morning with Ritchie in a B's sweater. "We’re gonna start him with [Charlie] Coyle. He’ll play the left side and [Anders] Bjork will move to the right."
Slotted in as a third-line guy out of the gate, Cassidy didn't shy from what he expects out of Ritchie out of the gate, and what he should bring to a Boston third line that could use a little more tenacity when it comes to finishing their chances.
“He’s obviously played in the league, big-bodied guy," Cassidy, who noted that he reached out to some members of the Ducks for more information on Ritchie's skillset and how to be use him, said. "Should be able to contribute with a net-front presence.
"Has a good shot, better hands than he’s maybe gotten credit for."
And despite touching down on Boston pavement shortly after 10 p.m. last night, Ritchie was on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena, and talked about adjusting to a new team, city, and what it means to be back on a playoff squad.
“Really exciting," Ritchie said of the switch from quacking to roaring. "They’ve been a great team for so long."
It also helped that Ritchie's nerves about being traded were eased by B's past and present.
“It’s the first time for me; first time I’ve been traded," Ritchie, who is part of a Ducks-Bruins connection that features Chris Wagner and ex-Bruins forward Matt Beleskey, admitted. "Don’t know what to expect, but luckily I knew a few guys and the other guys [in the Boston locker room] were super-nice and very welcoming."
The 6-foot-2 Ritchie has totaled eight goals and 19 points in 41 games this season (he's also generated a ton of chances and racked up 79 hits), and ended his Anaheim run with two goals and four points in a 6-5 loss to the Golden Knights on Feb. 23.
Ritchie will not be joined by his Ducks-now-Bruins teammate Ondrej Kase, however, as the team will hold Kase out for another game to give him some more time to get adjusted to the Bruins. Kase is also coming off an illness, too, so the Bruins are being extra cautious given the Czech winger's importance to this team as a potential top-six fix to David Krejci's right.
With Kase out, Karson Kuhlman will once again skate to the right of the Krejci line opposite Jake DeBrusk.
Tuukka Rask will get the start in the Boston crease.
Rask had a rough night in his last outing, surrendering six goals on 27 shots from the Canucks before getting a mercy pull from Cassidy in the third period. But Rask's overall numbers are still strong, as the 32-year-old comes into play with the league's best goals against average (2.17) and second-best save percentage (.928) in 36 games this season.
This is a quick turnaround for the B's and Flames, too, as these teams went at it this past Friday, with the Bruins coming through with a 4-3 victory that saw them overcome surrendering three goals in the opening four minutes and change of play.
Overall, Boston has picked up wins in 11 of their last 13 meetings.
Here are the complete lines and pairings for the Bruins...
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Nick Ritchie - Charlie Coyle - Anders Bjork
Sean Kuraly - Par Lindholm - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelyck - Jeremy Lauzon