The epitome of the Rangers struggles this season has been Brad Richards. He signed a lucrative and lengthy contract with the Rangers two years ago and promptly scored every clutch goal the teamneeded during his first season on Broadway, including one of the most exciting goals I've witnessed as a Blueshirts fan…
Add in all of Richards' humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and this was a match made in hockey heaven.
Then the 2013 season started. While his nine points (2g, 7a) in the first 10 games put him on pace to exceed last year's production, his play has trailed off considerably and has now gone goalless in 13 straight.
After gaining the reputation as a power play specialist during his time in Dallas, his struggles this season have been felt the most when the Rangers have the man advantage, which is now 7-for-63, good for a last place in the NHL with a paltry 11.1% success rate.
Where Richards was once known as one of the NHL's most prolific playmakers, he is now turning the puck over at an alarming rate. His inability to forge chemistry with Rick Nash forced John Tortorella to remove the sniper from Richards' wing, while he has yet to create any symmetry with Marian Gaborik (1g in last eight games) despite this being their second season together.
He's literally gone from the toast of New York to possible buyout candidate overnight.
Richards explained how he might be able to claw his way out of this funk after practice yesterday (via Daily News)…
“Once the puck’s on my stick more – and however that’s gonna happen, there’s a lot of ways that can happen – I start feeling better. I’ve got to have the puck. If I don’t have the puck on my stick, I don’t feel good. The more I have the puck on my stick, the more confidence I’ll get and the more freeing myself up.”
…i don't know Brad, I see you with the puck plenty during the game, unfortunately it's not for very long because you're usually giving it away. Sorry I had to. But in all seriousness, if that's what he needs to get himself back to being the clutch scoring stud we know he can be, than Torts has to find a way to get him more touches. And if that doesn't work maybe a well placed call from Tortorella to Olivia Munn's agent will do the trick.
…last night, I actually watched a ton of YouTube video of Brad Richards running the Dallas power play and one thing I noticed during his time with the Stars was that he was always looking to shoot it from the point. He would either sneak in to the top of the circle and absolutely bury a one-timer or notice traffic in front and fire it on goal. I don't see the same aggressiveness or confidence when he's controlling things from up top with the Blueshirts. He's trying too hard to make the perfect play instead of just finding a seam and letting it rip when it comes to him. Would love to see Richards get back to doing what worked for him so well in Dallas.
Here's a little of what I'm talking about…
…there were more shots from the point from Richards on the power play in those three videos than I've seen all year. The last video, while hard to tell, he was literally just bombing away from the point.