After emerging as the team’s de facto captain and becoming a reliable source of complimentary offense in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Richards has had his two worst games of the season in the Final. He has flopped against the Kings in more ways than one and leaves the Rangers in a bind.
Richards’ play looks like he has aged 10 years. He is mostly behind the pace and rarely finds himself in position to generate much of anything offensively.Richards is playing slow against what is not a particularly fast Kings team.
This creates a problem for the Rangers. Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin have been excellent in their own rights through two games, yet their possession numbers indicate that Richards has had a bit of an anvil effect on their play. The issue being, the Rangers have no obvious spot to rotate St. Louis and Hagelin. The Nash, Zuccarello, and Moore lines are for the most part clicking and as the old saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
The immediate adjustment that can be made is for Scott Arniel to pull Richards off the point on the power play, where he been absolutely abysmal. He has made poor decisions on zone entries, he hasn’t controlled the puck from the point, and has generated zero offense. I have no idea how any coach with a pulse kept marching Richards out on the power play in game two. Especially when considering how damn well Rick Nash was playing. Add Nash, replace Richards with Stepan or St. Louis. Both of whom are familiar with Richards position on the power play. Do it now.
If the Rangers have a prayer in pulling this series around, they will need Richards to find his game sooner rather than later. But the coaching staff also can’t sit idly by and hope that not making a meaningful adjustment works.