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A 3-2 loss during Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals was not the ideal outcome for the Anaheim Ducks. However, despite dropping the game, they would suffer an even bigger loss with the early exit of Nick Ritchie. After a hip check from Radko Gudas late in the first period, the night would end for the 24-year-old power forward. Unable to put any weight on his left leg, he would head to the locker room, in visible pain.
Classified as a lower-body injury, we can only assume from what we witnessed that Ritchie has sustained an injury to his knee. While Dallas Eakins didn’t give the specifics, according to Eric Stephens of The Athletic, the head coach stated that “it does not look very good.” No further details were provided, but the outcome doesn’t seem to be a positive one.
Ritchie’s absence from the team is yet another big blow to the Anaheim Ducks struggling lineup. Losing Josh Manson for an extended period of time has caused enough problems of its own. While Manson’s impending return seems to be right around the corner, what happens now that one of Anaheim’s best forwards could be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future?
Did I just say Nick Ritchie is one of the Anaheim Ducks best forwards this season? Why yes, I did! At the beginning of the season, it was questionable whether Ritchie’s style of game would fit well under the Dallas Eakins system. He certainly struggled in his first few games, but he found his groove, blossoming into one of the Ducks best play drivers and showing signs he’s maturing into a decent power forward.
While most fans lament at the sight of Ritchie due to his league-leading penalty minutes, his time on ice has been crucial for the Ducks this season. In 27 games, he has been a solid point producer for the team, keeping a solid stat line of 3 goals, 7 assists, and 10 points overall. While 10 points in 27 games aren’t going to earn him any accolades, it’s pretty decent for a power forward playing for a team who is struggling at both ends of the ice.
He is staying true to his style of hockey, with 9 blocks and 34 hits on the season, leading the way for his team with his physicality and big body. His 49 shots on goal also prove that he can generate offensive capabilities for the struggling Ducks. Despite the gruff exterior, the young forward is truly passionate about the game of hockey, and this season, more than ever, it shows.
His presence on the ice will be missed for whatever length of time he is out. While some may not believe Ritchie is a true asset to this team, time will only prove what the evidence clearly manifests. It would be no surprise for the Ducks to recall Max Jones, or even Daniel Sprong, in his absence. However, neither of them will be able to fill the void that will be felt in the absence of Nick Ritchie.