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.
the problem is that Richie keeps getting stood up at the line. anyone else notice that is where most of his turnovers happen? someone else needs to be in charge of getting the puck into the zone, then let Richie fire those bombs from the top of the circle.
This has got to be the only team in the league that constantly uses a right-handed shot on the right point and left-handed shot on the left point during the PP. This completely takes away the ability to take one-timers from the point. You see the Caps consistantly setting up Ovechkin for one-timers in the same spot, as do the penguins with Malkin. We have Richards, Nash and Gaborik and we NEVER set up any of them for one-time shots. Granted they might not be as lethal with their one-timers as ovechkin and malkin, but it creates so much even if the goalie makes the save. Plus it makes it easier to get the shot through since the defense doesn't have time to set up in front of the shot. This has been going on for years. It seems like Powerplay 101 to me.
If he could actually get his shot through to the net it would be a miracle. Either gets blocked or he misses the net.
Honesty, anyone who thinks he needs to be bought out after struggling for literally 10-15 games needs a reality check. This is typical of NY fans. Yes, Richards has been awful of late, but as the article points out look at how clutch he can be. He will find his way. To compare him to Scott Gomez is absolutely insulting. Gomez was put in a role he was never going to fill. Richards is a solid vet that's necessary on this young team. Enough with the buyout talk, tons of other things we can harp on. It's completely out of line to keep bringing up the idea of buying him out. We do the same thing with Gabby year in and year out. Meanwhile, the guy is producing 40 goals a season, yet we're STILL on him every inch of the way. I'm a born and bread New Yorker, I get this is how it works, but give it a rest. Richards and Gabby need to produce end of story. I get that our entire team is a free agent come 2014, but the buying out Richards concept is a mute point. Why can't we talk about the real issue? As in, 3 of our guys go down cause of hard hits and NO ONE stands up for them - NO ONE. Stu Bickel used to fight every game and he comes in now with a completely worthless effort most nights, why? Asham, well, why would he fight, right? Fighting isn't everything, but you can't let these teams hit our top guys. Dubi wouldn't have let it fly. Someone has to take responsibility. I can't even believe a guy like Mashinter comes up and doesn't get in a scuffle.
Someone is telling the team to concentrate on other things, meanwhile, they're not even exceling at that. How about we show them the video from last year? Show them how to have heart, how to play the game like you want to win the fucking Stanley Cup.
McDonagh is playing tonight, Nash says he probably will if all goes well in warmups. Kreider looks like the scratch, though with Nash not a definite go he won't be sent down today probably. I imagine if Nash plays tonight and feels okay tomorrow Kreider goes down to get some games in this weekend, and possibly stays long-term.
No word on Del Zotto, which means he's probably out again, so Gilroy-Eminger 3rd pair and Bickel on the 4th line. If DZ plays, no idea who's out since Eminger played well enough to earn another game, but Gilroy also played much better the other night.
@TheNYRBlog surprised at Richard's success at the point since he seems to be more of a sniper down near the circles.
Tired of excuses for this guy... Did you know that he is making 12 million dollars this year? That's right 12 million... 3rd most in the league, you would think he'd be in the scoring title race for that kind of money. Honestly, I am starting to see no way he is not bought out, there is no way the Rangers carry his 6.67 cap hit for the next 7 years....
@TheNYRBlog torts has to stop relying on Richards as his go to guy. He doesn't have the shoulders for it anymore. He needs to be put on wing
There's all this talk about using an amnesty buy-out on Richards but if Nash continues to be injured or comes back and is out like 2 games later we should consider buying him out. He's awesome WHEN he's in the line up but can we afford to have him on and off IR indefinitely? This is going to be a very short break between seasons - not enough time to heal anything serious and his contract is more expensive than Richies.....just sayin
@TheNYRBlog they would have to cycle constantly in order for a fwd to play point. Also Nash should be moved to center and Richards wing.
@TheNYRBlog Richards shouldn't be on the point. They don't play that kind up pp offense to have him there. That's why they give up chances.
It kinda still feels like the lockout. During it, I would watch Richard's and Staal's goals in NYR/WAS game 5 over and over. Now, I watch them to remember what it feels like to be genuinely excited over how our boys were playing. I sure hope they get back to it soon, cause it's disheartening.
@leewardtide its not about this year, its about 5 or 6 years down the road. He is already declining imagine how horrible he will be when he is 38, and still taking up 6.67 million of cap
@slapshot13j Do you know how expensive it will be to buy out Richards? There is NO WAY he is being bought out. NY hockey media loves to stir the pot... some people buy it, apparently.
@chrisD Nash has missed 4 games this year. He's had one season where he played fewer than 74 games in his career. Using the 2nd amnesty buy-out on anyone this summer isn't a great idea, but if they decide to do it, buying out Nash instead of Richards would be asinine. I think Richards will turn it around, though it might not be until next season unfortunately.
Maybe you're kidding, and I'm just an idiot and fell for it.
@edvinlofgren lol. he HAS turned into gomez...
@slapshot13j I understand that, but we all know that's the risk you take when you sign someone to lifetime contract. Can't get worse than Redden.
@slapshot13j You're insane.