Brad Richards was brilliant tonight. There’s really no other way to phrase it. He controlled the game from the drop of the puck. Playing the kind of hockey we all knew he was capable of. I’m not even talking about the goals he scored, it’s more about, how decisive he was out there. With Richards, when he’s not going well, he takes an extra half second or so to make a play, so that the play he wants to make, just isn’t there. Tonight, he didn’t hesitate. When he got the puck, he tried to make a play. He took a shot, he started shifting to the side to draw players in close so he could fire passes to open teammates, he skated with some authority, and he made the players around him better. It didn’t hurt that he’s finally seen some consistent playing time with Marian Gaborik either.
Getting the 2 superstars together is a smart move by the coach, though I’m not sure it’s going to work long term (ie, playoffs). It helps get Richards going while getting the offense jumpstarted. With that said, the Rangers are going to need much more than Richards and Gaborik going to win in the playoffs. They’re going to need Henrik Lundqvist do be much better than he was tonight. You can’t fault him on the 2nd goal, which was a crazy bounce, but the other 2, Henrik usually stops. Maybe I’m holding him to a standard no NHL Goalie is capable of living up to, but either way, I think Henrik needs to be better, and you’d have to believe he thinks as much too.
Why did the power play start to click all of a sudden? To me, it had zero to do with the call up of Mats Zucarello-Aasen, and everything to do with Brian Boyle being parked right in front of the goalie. It’s amazing how much having a big body the goalie can’t look through will help a teams power play. Boyle wasn’t playing on the boards or below the goal, he was parked right in front of the net, and didn’t move till the puck was out of the zone. Good call coach.