Anthony Richard’s legs were a bit shaky.
He had just popped on the ice Thursday in Providence to build back his stamina after a five-day All-Star break when word came down: He was shipping up to Boston and possibly slotting in for the Bruins game against the Canucks.
The forward had to fit in a meal, a nap (which was unsuccessful), and hightail it to TD Garden for the pregame skate.
“It was a quick turnaround,” Richard said after Friday’s morning practice at Warrior Arena. “I was really happy, really excited. I couldn’t nap with how excited I was.”
Add nervousness to the range of emotions as well.
With Brad Marchand iffy for the game, Richard could be taking the captain’s spot — and making his Boston debut — under less-than-ideal circumstances.
“I was a little bit nervous if I was playing at night because I haven’t skated in five days, so my legs were a little rusty in the warmup,” he said. “So when Marchy told me he was good to go, it was a little bit disappointing I’m not playing, but in some part, I was kind of happy not playing.
“My legs were pretty tired, but I was ready to go for sure, but I was not in the best game shape, that’s for sure. So, having a good practice today was really good for me.”
Richard is expected to make his Bruins debut Saturday with the Capitals in town for a 3:30 puck drop. He’ll likely play right wing on the fourth line with Jesper Boqvist at center and Danton Heinen on the left side.
A 2015 Predators draft pick, the 27-year-old Richard has 15 games of NHL experience under his belt, including a baker’s dozen with the Canadiens last season when he collected three goals and 5 points. He piled up 30 goals and 67 points in 60 games with Laval, Montreal’s AHL entry.
After signing as a free agent in July and spending the summer in Boston, Richard was assigned to Providence, where he spent more time getting acquainted with the Bruins’ system. He said it took about a month to get fully comfortable before he started to flourish. Through 41 AHL games, he has 19 goals and 38 points.
Known for his offense, Richard has put an emphasis on his 200-foot game, as well as becoming a polished penalty killer. He also enjoys the attitude in Providence, which he said is different from his previous AHL stops in Milwaukee, Chicago, Syracuse, and Laval.
“It’s probably the first team in the [AHL] that [plays] to win,” he said. “Usually in other organizations, it’s more like playing younger guys, trying to build their confidence back, and usually their call-ups are younger guys, but here it’s more like, ‘We want to win down there when we’re winning here.’
“So everybody is committed to playing the right way, like the playoff-type of game, which is the first time I’ve seen that in the American Hockey League.”
🎥 Anthony Richard on possibly making his #NHLBruins debut on Saturday vs. Washington: "Very excited...I was waiting for that chance. I've been playing good down there [in Providence]. We're a good team...it's been really nice in Providence. I really enjoyed my time there." pic.twitter.com/8uqegD33PX— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 9, 2024
Jim Montgomery ticked off speed, tenacity, and consistent forechecking as elements he wants to see from Richard, who will be given an opportunity to work on the penalty kill. Richard has five shorthanded goals for the Baby B’s.
“We’d like to create more anxiety in other teams, and there’s different ways to do that,” said the coach. “Speed is one of them that really makes people back off or make plays quicker than they want to. Physicality is another one. He’s had a real good year in Providence.”
Richard expects to have some of his family drive down from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, in time for Saturday’s game, including his parents and brother, Michael.
“It’s something exciting for my family,” said Richard. “My brother actually has always been a huge Bruins fan, so it’s kind of been a battle in the family over the Canadiens and Bruins the last couple of weeks.
“But my mom was a huge Canadiens fan growing up, so I think she’s going to have to turn into a Bruins fan tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
That was better
After giving up a pair of power-play goals in Tuesday’s loss, the Bruins killed both of Vancouver’s penalties Thursday (and scored a pair of shorties). Montgomery said there weren’t many noticeable adjustments made to the kill, which dipped a bit in the weeks before the All-Star break. “I think the execution of the four guys being predictable to each other was a lot better,” said the coach. “Our sticks were better. Our stopping and starting, our running our routes in zone and especially up ice, was significantly better.” . . . Jeremy Swayman (16-4-7) is expected to get the start against Washington . . . The seven-game homestand continues next week with games against the Lightning (Tuesday), Kraken (Thursday), and Kings (Saturday) . . . Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has been held to 11 goals in 46 games. Surprisingly, he is still tied for tops on the Capitals with 33 points. Not surprisingly, his minus-18 is the worst on the team.