Nick Ritchie’s hit was big moment in Bruins’ Game 4 loss – The Boston Globe


    Nick Ritchie was scratched in the final three games of the Carolina series, his slower pace and big-body game not a fit in against a smaller, speedier opponent.

    There is a chance he will sit for Game 5 for trying to do his job.

    The burly Bruin is unlikely to be suspended for his crushing second-period check on Tampa’s Yanni Gourde, which earned him a five-minute major for boarding, on replay review.

    The hit arrived two seconds after Gourde made a pass, but three factors could play in Ritchie’s favor: he approached mostly from the side, seemed to initiate the hit while Gourde had the puck, and Gourde finished the game without an apparent issue.

    “Clever, obviously,” Cassidy said. “Got them on the power play for five minutes, he finished the game, had no problems in the third period. I didn’t agree with the call.”

    Asked about Cassidy’s comments, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Gourde was clever —- “there’s no doubt about that” —- but Ritchie deserved the penalty.

    “I thought the hit was late,” said Cooper, whose team took advantage of the five-minute advantage to go up, 3-0. “It’s hitting an unexpecting opponent … In the regular season, for sure, it’s a suspension.”

    Cassidy disagreed, wondering why there was no penalty call at first. Play stopped because Gourde was apparently injured.

    “[Ritchie] was finishing a check, it happens all the time,” Cassidy said. “He played through a player’s shoulder as I saw it. Shoulder to shoulder, hard. I don’t know if the explanation was it was late or it was a 225-pound man hits a 170-pound man and that’s why the penalty is called.”

    Cassidy was annoyed that Cedric Paquette’s pop on Karson Kuhlman — “a very, very, very, very, very similar hit” — was not called. Ritchie was tagged for roughing when he went after Paquette, who has a history of questionable hits.

    Ritchie, who was brought in at the deadline to answer for heavier teams like Washington, Tampa, and St. Louis, said he was doing his job.

    “I was just finishing my hit,’ he said. “Thought I did a good job keeping my arms down and it was shoulder-to-shoulder. Maybe he wasn’t expecting it and he just got rid of the puck. I’m just playing my game and that’s part of it, sometimes stuff like that happens.

    “I’ve got to finish checks. Sometimes you get away with them. There’s been a lot of hits, big hits in this series that maybe haven’t been called and I’ve been flagged a couple times. I just have to keep working and playing my game.”

    After two days of player-driven postponement to reflect on systemic racism and police brutality, the playoffs returned with the Bruins and Lightning participating in a three-minute ceremony.

    “In hockey we often let our effort, determination and passion to win do the talking,” NHL Network commentator and former goalie Kevin Weekes said in a video. “But when an issue is bigger than the game we must speak out, starting with three words we need to get comfortable saying: Black. Lives. Matter.”

    Tampa defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who arrived at the rink wearing a Hockey Diversity Alliance hoodie, and Bruins Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron made comments in the video, similar to those they made Friday.

    Inside the bubble the last two days, there was little talk of hockey. The focus was on social justice and how the NHL can use its platform to improve the lives of people of color.

    “There’s bigger things than hockey,” Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk said. “That’s probably one of the things that’s been focused on the most here.”

    NBC analyst Anson Carter, a Black Canadian and former Bruins winger, praised the players for their initiative.

    “As a professional athlete, you’re so hyper-focused on the task at hand,” Carter said. “I hope the guys took this time to reflect and understand exactly why we took this pause in the action. As a Black man, I don’t have that privilege. I can’t just take a pause in all this.”

    Jaroslav Halak’s .833 save percentage over the last two games is his worst stretch since 2010 with the Canadiens, when he had .810 and .820 sets but was otherwise excellent. The worst two-game playoff stretch of Tuukka Rask’s career: .848 in Games 6 and 7 of the 2014 Montreal series … Pastrnak was scoreless, but drew four penalties, put six of 11 attempts on net and threw two hits in 20:57 … Pastrnak and Torey Krug combined for 11 shots on goal. Kuhlman (three) was the only other Bruin to land more than two shots. David Krejci, Bergeron, Charlie Coyle, Ondrej Kase, and Charlie McAvoy all finished with one shot, and Marchand (in 22:57) and Matt Grzelcyk (15:35) fired blanks … Kase’s goalless streak as a Bruin stretched to 16 games. He nearly ended it after taking a DeBrusk saucer pass with 6:48 left, but he couldn’t shelf a backhand from in tight … The fourth line, guilty of puck-watching on the opening goal, did not play much in the third period. Neither Chris Wagner nor Par Lindholm played a shift in the third period. Joakim Nordstrom took one turn, with Coyle and Kuhlman … Zdeno Chara (16:13; 5:30 on the penalty kill) played just four shifts in the third, the Bruins chasing the score. The big man was dropped early by 5-foot-10-inch Nikita Kucherov, which fired up Tampa. “You could see it from the beginning when he hit Chara, when he had a great forecheck,” Palat said of Kucherov. “When your star player is doing those little things, everybody’s following him and I thought he had a huge game.”




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