Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/14/13
Here was the revelation for Brad Richards the Rangers alternate captain hesitant to say the wrong thing after a loss but knowing the truth of the situation was clear to all that have been watching. “I feel good” Richards said on Saturday night in the Scottrade Center locker room minutes after a 5-3 loss to the Blues that took his team to 1-4-0 but another game in which he scored his fourth goal in the opening five games a mark that took him 22 games to get to last season. Then came the real kicker. “I feel like me” Richards said. This is a long way from the feelings of last season when Richards admitted he wasn’t in the best of shape entering the lockout-shortened schedule and then went on to play the worst hockey of his celebrated career. It got so bad the 2004 Conn Smythe winner was scratched by then coach John Tortorella in the team’s second-round playoff loss to the Bruins managing a single point a goal in 10 playoff games. Richards still only 33 years old then had to deal with all the public discussion about a possible amnesty buyout which would have given general manager Glen Sather some much-needed salary cap space if Richards’ salary of $6.67 million per year until 2019-20 came off the books. But Sather chose to keep Richards give him another chance to find his game and what has happened is Richards has become the team’s best player — by far — and that even includes goalie Henrik Lundqvist. In the second period on Saturday Richards forced a Blues turnover which led to a Derrick Brassard shot on net the rebound of which Richards one-timed into the net. Not only was it a good all-around play it cut the Blues lead to 3-2 and gave the Rangers life. “He’s played well” said coach Alain Vigneault who gave Richards a team-high 23:39 of ice time Saturday and was rewarded with his game-high eight shots on net and 13 total attempts. “We need some guys to follow up and do the same thing.” Vigneault has a bit of a conundrum on his hands. Richards is one of if not the only forward playing consistently well. The coach double-shifted Richards early and often on Saturday after dressing only 11 forwards so unsure of his defensive corps he thought having seven of them on the bench was a good idea.
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