The come back of Brad Richards has been an amazing story this season. From all but assured of being amnestied last off-season to being the de facto captain of a Rangers team fighting for the Cup.
But it could all be going out the window with his play to close out the playoffs. Richards is now pointless with a -5 in his last four games and hasn’t won over 50% of his faceoffs since Game 6 against Pittsburgh. He’s also found himself defending more than creating lately as he’s been below 30% Corsi (% of shots for vs. against) in two of the last three games.
His horrendous giveaway in Game 2 was a springboard for the Kings comeback, while his golden opportunity to regain the lead for the Rangers in the third period ended up buried in Jonathan Quick’s pads, not the back of the net.
And please, don’t get me started on his ineptness on the power play, which is now two for their last 24 attempts. While Alain Vigneault has no problem taking Rick Nash off the power play, it’s been baffling to watch him continuously trot Richards back out there despite being pointless on the extra man in the last eight games.
At the ripe old age of 34, you have to wonder if a full season plus 22 playoff games has finally caught up to him.
Here’s Vigneault earlier today on his veteran’s recent struggles (via Bergen Record)…
“I’m sure Brad, with his experience, knows that their whole line needs to be better,” Vigneault said. “If you look at the stats on that night, it obviously wasn’t one of their better nights. But they’re veteran guys. They’ve been around. They can evaluate their game real well. I’m sure they’re going to have a good bounce-back game tonight.
“Brad is a veteran player,” Vigneault added. “I know he’s going to respond real well. I’m confident that’s what he’s going to do.”
…despite all the negativity I outlined above, I agree with AV, that Richards is going to bounce back with a spirited effort tonight. He’s a former Conn Smythe winner who knows what it takes to rise to the occasion and get it done.
…there’s not a situation he hasn’t faced during his career, so I’m not at all expecting him to collapse under the weight of the adversity he’s facing. The hallmark of the Rangers this season and postseason has been their resiliency as a team and individually.
…Richards helped lead this team to within four wins of the Stanley Cup Final, now is not the time for his coach nor the fan base to give up on him in favor of young inexperienced players who would likely wilt from the pressure of the moment.