Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/14/14

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 05: Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 5, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Stars 4-0. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

We are nearing the end of the first quarter of the 2011-12 hockey season, and granted the Rangers still have to face the Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in the coming weeks before the quarter closes, but I think it's safe to say that, so far, this season has been a success for the Blueshirts after their turnaround. A large part of that success has been the play of center Brad Richards, who was signed to a nine-year, $60 million contract over the summer. At least to this point, he's been worth every penny of that money. 

Richards, like the team, got off to a bit of a slow start. After scoring a clutch tying goal in Europe, he suddenly became quiet, which is something he acknowledged and said he needed to improve. The Marian Gaborik experiment didn't last very long, and we quickly saw Richie getting bounced around in the lineup to see who he fits best with. 

It just so happens that Richards played his best when centering a second line containing Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan on the wings. That's where he's spent a majority of the winning streak, and in eight games with them, he has recorded eight total points. In other words, he's become a point-per-game player when skating with Dubinsky and Callahan. 

A lot of the credit goes to head coach John Tortorella for this one, as his reasoning for moving Richards to the second line with those guys was that sometimes "grinding it out" will bring out the best in Brad and help him find his game. Well I guess the coach wasn't kidding when he said he and Brad know each other extremely well, because the outcome of this move couldn't have been more perfect. Tip of the hat to ol' Torts. 

Going into the year we all knew about Richards' passing and his playmaking capabilities. We've seen him excel on this team while using those tools on the ice, but one thing I was unaware of when the Rangers signed Richards was his lethal shot. This guy really knows how to shoot the hockey puck, and you saw what I mean on his game-winning shot on Long Island a few nights ago. His shooting is just as accurate as his passing, and that's made him an even more dangerous weapon for this hockey club. 

In the early going, though, Richards was not shooting the puck as often as he should, and it is my belief that was a result of playing with Marian Gaborik. Richie felt obligated to dish it off, but the coaching staff put a quick halt on that. Now, on the second line, Richards has been averaging three to four shots on goal per game as of late, as opposed to just one or two. And clearly that's made a difference in his production. 

It took time, but Richards is finally playing $60 million hockey and meeting the expectations of the fan base to this point. He is currently second in scoring on the team behind Marian Gaborik, having registered 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points in sixteen games played. Without Richards, this winning streak wouldn't be as smooth moving as it's been, and let's hope that is something that continues into the next few weeks when the competition is amped up a notch. 

 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Nate Solder reveals he was diagnosed with testicular cancer

RG3 on Patriots: 'They operate like a high school football team'

AUDIO: Reds skipper Bryan Price drops 77 f-bombs in rant

Monty Williams: Warriors home crowd noise 'out of hand'

LT thinks Philip Rivers won’t play for Chargers in 2015

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Kevin Ollie 'seriously considered' for Thunder job

Floyd Mayweather: I'm a better fighter than Muhammad Ali

Video emerges of Warren Sapp talking about prostitute arrest

Chip Kelly in 2011: Tim Tebow is not our team's QB type

NBA commissioner: Sports gambling is 'good for business'

RG3 'wouldn't be bummed' if Redskins don't pick up option

The Milwaukee Brewers' untimely collapse

Cubs will reportedly call up prospect Addison Russell

Brewers' Scooter Gennett shares photo of nasty shower injury

WATCH: Fan at Pirates game hit by foul ball through netting

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz over ejection

WATCH: President Obama leads 'O-H-I-O' chant

Fred Hoiberg shares video of him walking after heart surgery

DeAndre Jordan geeks out at Batman Exhibit

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Marshall Henderson trolls Erin Andrews over Stoll arrest

Steve Ballmer turned Lakers locker room into owner's lounge

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mayweather: I'm better than Ali

WATCH: Sapp talks prostitute arrest

Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 car wins at Long Beach

Pat Riley takes shot at LeBron?

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Stop the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady debate

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

The Tim Tebow lottery ticket

If Tony Parker's not right, it's going to go wrong for Spurs

So the Mets might be contenders

Why Billy Donovan won't go to Oklahoma City

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.