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The Boston Bruins lost five games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy. The middle-six right-winger is a big question mark, but Brett Ritchie doesn’t seem like an answer.
It is what it is. The Bruins have hit five straight losses for the first time under Bruce Cassidy. There was one obvious change Cassidy could have made headed to the back-to-back situation against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he refused to. Brett Ritchie did little to deserve staying in the lineup.
When a team loses four straight games, especially a demanding team like a Boston Bruins, they naturally look for a slight lineup shakeup. The onlu change Cassidy made was to replace Connor Clifton with John Moore.
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A few eyebrows were raised as Brett Ritchie stayed in the lineup and remained on the second line.
The Bruins have limited possibilities to address this problem. With Zach Senyshyn and Karson Kuhlman injured, the Bruins are short-handed. David Backes returned to the action, and he seemed to click in for a few games.
Backes scored a game-winner against the Canadiens and also looked lively during his next two games versus Carolina and Chicago. Since then, he has been a healthy scratch at the expense of Brett Ritchie. Is that a reason why the Bruins lost the four next games?
No, Backes is not as critical to the Bruins system. For them, it would the best option if the 35-year-old veteran forward was gone for good, and the B’s would clear the salary-cap space. But given the situation as it is, it’s mindblowing that Ritchie stayed in the lineup throughout all four regulation losses, including a back-to-back situation.
After scoring only seven goals in the last four regulation losses, the Bruins need offense, and Brett Ritchie is not bringing what they are looking for.
We also mentioned John Moore, whose place should be taken by Connor Clifton. Moore took two penalties on Thursday in Tampa, and the Bruins gave up goals on both occasions. However, Moore did bounce back with a goal of his own.
Moore managed to bring some offense even after significant shoulder-surgery recovery. On the other hand, Ritchie contributed exactly zero points.
The trade deadline nears. If the Bruins collect another similar five-game losing streak down the stretch, the pressure on acquiring a reliable second-line right-winger will only increase on Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney.
As for Ritchie, he scored in his first shift for the Bruins against his former teammate Ben Bishop. He only has one goal since then, so he doesn’t deserve a top-six spot.
Cassidy sees it too, as Ritchie played only 10:03 versus the Lightning, and averages only 10:36 of the ice-time per game, which is suitable for the fourth-line duties. The Bruins need to find a better and more consistent player to fill that second right wing spot.