ANAHEIM — Nick Ritchie made a direct impact in the Ducks’ 4-2 win over Boston on Wednesday by assisting on Kevin Roy’s first NHL goal and then scoring his own.
That is the kind of impact the Ducks want to see. More often. Until then, Ritchie had been much more noticeable in the amount of visits he made to the penalty box and it has been a conversation Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has had with him “more than once.”
A late penalty on Wednesday was Ritchie’s 10th minor taken but the breakout game represented progress after a stagnant opening few weeks.
“Obviously, you’re frustrated but it’s still early in the season,” Ritchie said. “I don’t think you play all 82 games and the playoffs where you’re playing your best or feeling your best or whatever that is. You try to do it every day, but if you’re just contributing any way you can, I think that’s important.
“It’s nice to contribute like that. But you try to go out and play the same way and hope the team wins. That’s what is most important.”
In a way, Ritchie has been a work in progress as he is now into his third season. There have been bright moments – the brightest is his Game 7 game-winner against Edmonton last spring – but the Ducks have been looking for something sustainable.
“He’s been asked to change some things in the way he prepares himself and what’s been going on,” Carlyle said. “We’ve asked him to put some more time in and some more effort into target areas. And he’s got an opportunity.
“That’s more of the Nick Ritchie we’re expecting. He’s going to have to string some games together and show some consistency here.”
The variance in his ice time reflects his inconsistency. Ritchie has played as many as 19 minutes but had played only nine in consecutive games before Carlyle gave the winger another opportunity to have a positive effect.
Power forwards often develop later than other players and Ritchie, who nearly doubled his point total in one night, only turns 22 on Dec. 5. He is still laying a foundation but it can’t just be that. “I think the process is more important but eventually the results do have to come,” he said.
But the way he was productive against the Bruins is what will make him most effective. Ritchie’s shot from in close created a rebound for Roy to score and his hustle to the net ended with him punching in Antoine Vermette’s pass to finish a picture perfect Ducks breakout from their zone.
“He has to be…