Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/17/11

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. 


Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Report: David Lee signs with the Spurs

Craig Sager to miss Olympics while undergoing bone marrow transplant


Jarryd Hayne wouldn’t have retired if NFL had minor league system

Draymond Green: ‘Me and LeBron are friends’

Pierre-Paul won't need to wear club on hand this season

Report: Four cities remain in contention to host 2017 NBA ASG

Doc Rivers: Clippers have plan to let Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic

Another young 49er, Kaleb Ramsey, retires from NFL

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

Cam Talbot thinks the Oilers are close to making the playoffs

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

Canucks don't dismiss acquiring player with past issues

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker