Ritchie itchin' for opportunity

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Byron Ritchie is thrilled with the chance.

The Calgary Flames forward just isn't happy about why he's getting the nod.

"It's a bad way to get into the lineup," said Ritchie, referring to Stephane Yelle's ankle injury.

"You never want to see a teammate hurt, especially a guy like Steph, who plays with so much heart and character and is so valuable to the team."

That said, Ritchie has bided his time. A healthy scratch for all but three games this season, he's watched more games than actually played.

"It's a tough thing to do, mentally especially," Ritchie said. "Physically, you can work hard on and off the ice and stay in shape but mentally it's draining. I've been doing it for so long and feel I can play and I can help the team."

In practice, Ritchie skated on a line with Marcus Nilson and Darren McCarty.

Granted, the Flames could recall a forward with a pair of roster spots open but with Yelle out for what could be a couple of months, Ritchie is staring at a big opportunity.

He's trying not to think long-term, though.

"All I can do is play my best and hope (I get) more minutes," he said.

The veteran of 192 NHL games has yet to collect a point this season. Last year, skating in 45 games for the Flames, the 29-year-old from Burnaby collected four goals and two assists.

He's looking to show even more offensive touch.

"Confidence, that's been my worst downfall throughout this up-and-down stretch ... but this year I have a different outlook on things, more positive," said the versatile forward.


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