Nick Ritchie shows some punch for a Bruins team that needed it

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SUNRISE, Fla. – The Bruins have been waiting all season for a big, strong and intimidating type to stand out among their forwards. A power forward capable of instilling a little fear into opponents and perhaps lessen the number of liberties taken with B's players.

David Backes was a little too old at 35 and a bit too beaten up to still play that role even if the spirit was still willing, and Brett Ritchie wasn't consistently on the ice enough to develop into that kind of player, either. But Brett's younger brother, Nick, showed in the 2-1 overtime win over the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center that he could be that guy. 

He filled that role nicely when the situation called for some angry fisticuffs against the Panthers.

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Ritchie got into it with rookie Florida defenseman Riley Stillman on a few shifts in the first period and then decided to drop the gloves after the two had a brief previous encounter at the net. It will probably be the last time Stillman messes with Ritchie after the 6-foot-2, 230-pound winger hammered him to the ice with a series of powerful right-handed punches.

It looked like a pumped-up Ritchie had a little something to say to the Panthers bench as he skated to the penalty box and David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner all had wide grins on their faces as they banged their sticks against the board in appreciation.

"He kind of gave me a shot on the shift before and I guess wanted to fight. It was a decent time to fight because I think we were a little flat and didn't have our best stuff. So, maybe it sparked us a little bit," said Ritchie, who hadn't dropped the gloves since 2017-18 for the Ducks. "I don't think you want to go out and fight everybody, but I thought was a decent chance to kind of get the guys in the game. I think they enjoyed it."

Ritchie's teammates certainly enjoyed having a teammate that could instill a little fear into opponents. Bruce Cassidy admitted it's something the Bruins could use a little more of with those duties falling to 42-year-old Zdeno Chara a little too often this season.

"You've got to see it up close sometimes," said Bruce Cassidy, of seeing Ritchie flex his muscles and exhibit some of the brutish toughness he'll bring to the Boston lineup. "Hats off to young Stillman for trying to go that route. I don't know if he's a fighter or not, but if not I think he was in over his head a little bit there. But he came back [to the game] and played and it's part of the game.

"Ritchie is a big, strong man and proved that he can handle himself in those situations. Listen, that's something we knew about him and that still has value in the game. So, good for Ritchie."

It obviously isn't going to be something Ritchie will feature for the Bruins much in the upcoming playoffs and fighting is on the decline generally across the NHL anyway. Still, the B's needed to see that out of Ritchie at some point after dealing for him at the trade deadline and the former Ducks power forward showed it in a power-packed way at the opportune time.

Nick Ritchie shows some punch for a Bruins team that needed it originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston