Boston Bruins 2021 Player Grades: Nick Ritchie started strong

May 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) celebrates after a goal in front of New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) and defenseman Ryan Murray (22) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) celebrates after a goal in front of New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) and defenseman Ryan Murray (22) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

With our latest edition of Boston Bruins 2021 Player Grades, we go over left wing Nick Ritchie.

After a disappointing start to his career in Boston, many fans didn’t think much of Ritchie going into this season. Acquired at the 2019-20 trade deadline for Danton Heinen, Ritchie suited up for seven games with the B’s that season and only put up a goal and an assist. He didn’t do much better in the playoffs, recording just a goal in eight games.

Fans started to despise Ritchie. He was supposed to provide a net-front presence that could put home rebounds and deflect shots, but he was proving to be highly ineffective in the role he was brought in to play.

Did the Don Sweeney just trade away a 24-year-old that scored 16 goals and 47 points two seasons prior for another 24-year-old that can’t do anything with career-highs of 14 goals and 31 points?

The answer is no.

In an incredible turn of events, Nick Ritchie went from hated to fan-favorite. He started the season red-hot as he finally was playing his role to perfection. Over the first 21 games of the season, Ritchie scored 15 points, including eight goals.

However, Ritchie would go cold after this hot streak and he would never be able to warm up again. While Ritchie’s stretch to start the season was impressive, if you look deeper, you realize he actually wasn’t that effective and was really only valuable on the powerplay.

Nick Ritchie was basically useless unless the Bruins were on the powerplay.

As I mentioned earlier, Ritchie scored eight goals over the first 21 games of the season. Over the remaining 35 games, Ritchie would only score seven more goals. The biggest reason for Ritchie’s slump was that he was unable to score on the powerplay.

As I previously said, Ritchie was brought in to provide a net-front presence for the B’s. During his hot stretch to start the season, he was doing this perfecting, especially on the powerplay as five of his eight goals came on the man-advantage.

However, none of Ritchie’s seven goals after the first 21 games came on the powerplay. To make matters worse, he wasn’t even providing effective screens to help in teammates score — he, almost literally, went invisible for the last 35 games of the season.

More from Causeway Crowd

Overall, Ritchie had a similar season to David Pastrnak. They both started off red-hot, but cooled off as the season progressed. However, Pasta’s red-hot is scoring nearly two points per game and his cold is scoring just under a point per game while Ritchie’s red-hot is Pastrnak’s cold.

Now, I’m not trying to compare the two players as they are completely different when it comes to game styles and talent level. I was just stating that they had similar seasons when it came to when they got hot and when they went cold.

Anyway, this season proved one thing: Nick Ritchie can really only do one thing well and that’s screen the goalie. When he’s on his game and actually putting in effort and provides a great net-front presence and can deflect shots and bury rebounds. But, if he isn’t doing this, Ritchie is basically useless as he isn’t great in his own zone, isn’t very creative when making passes or plays, and isn’t the greatest skater.

Must Read. Boston Bruins: Brad Marchand selected to First All-Star Team. light

But, even with such a cold second half to the season, Ritchie still set a career-best in goals in a shortened season and was on pace for 38 points over a full, 82-game season — so I’ll give him a slightly better grade than I was originally thinking.

Grade: B-