It’s no secret, Brad Richards has been terrible in the Stanley Cup Final. His fall from adored de facto captain back to the dejected scapegoat that he was in last year’s playoffs under John Tortorella has been a hockey horror show. It’s been a remarkable train wreck that I can’t stop talking about. Partly because it’s incredible how quickly the tide turned against Richards.
Alain Vigneault finally responded to Richards’ poor play and demoted him to the fourth line in the Rangers game four win at MSG. Dominic Moore replaced him on a line with Martin St. Louis and the newly added Chris Kreider. It had to happen, just to stop the bleeding. But the Rangers aren’t at their best with Moore playing in a third line role with St. Louis. Moore is best suited in a fourth line role and Richards is a terrible checking center. It’s an ill fit and one that leaves the Rangers with only one option; Richards needs to not suck if the Rangers hope to keep this series alive.
The Rangers need Richards to be better at even strength, but they could remedy his terrible play on the power play; take him off of it. TAKE HIM OFF OF IT. The Rangers have no other real options at even strength, but they absolutely can replace Richards on the power play. Stick Anton Stralman at the point, or maybe put John Moore on the first unit, or maybe stick one of Derek Stepan or St. Louis on the point, this way you can give Rick Nash power play minutes. Any one of those options would be an improvement over Richards and pay immediate dividends. But no, Scott Arniel has his head buried in the sand in this series. He has made zero adjustments to what is a flailing power play that is very close to being one of the key reasons the Rangers couldn’t beat the Kings. He is hell bent on sticking with Richards despite other options to replace him. It is inexcusable.
The Rangers also need Dan Girardi to be better. His turnover to Justin Williams in overtime led to the game one loss. He has since been a shadow of himself. He has been so bad and such a liability at times, that “he has to be injured, right?”. There are other keys to this game five that the Rangers need to strike in order to keep their season alive, but it starts with Richards and Girardi at the very least being average as opposed to damn terrible.