Despite losing their first game of the season, the New York Rangers have positives that they can build off of moving forward. One of the more impressive players on the ice against Phoenix Coyotes, Brad Richards showed that he is ready to put last season behind him and move forward as the playmaking forward he is expected to be.
Richards, playing on the left wing, led the team in shots with four on the night and was constantly seen creating opportunities in the offensive zone. It wasn’t a perfect night for Richards, who finished as a -1 and only won 29 percent of his faceoffs, but it was a far cry from last season’s abysmal effort that saw him fall out of favor with the coaching staff and the fans.
The Rangers are in the process of learning a new system under new head coach Alain Vigneault, and navigating through the learning curve at the beginning of the season will not be an easy process. However, Richards showed poise and veteran leadership, leading the way for Rangers’ forwards in the offensive end.
All offseason, people have discussed whether the Rangers should have bought Richards’ contract out as he seems to be on the decline of his career. Although expectations are never tempered in New York, there wasn’t much hope for Richards contributing offensively for the Blueshirts this season.
With a strong first game, Richards is trying to prove to fans as well as the NHL that he can still be an effective forward. Vigneault may have found a good home for him on the left wing. The Rangers could certainly use this version of Richards on a nightly basis as they continue the rest of their 2013-14 season.
Martin Burns covers the New York Rangers for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter for more thoughts on the team as well as the rest of the NHL!