Most people were angry and confused when they learned that the New York Rangers were not going to buyout Brad Richards. Why would the team keep a player who was owed so much money and underperformed so badly? Well we’re getting that answer now.
While everyone else on the Rangers seems to be struggling Richards has been a bright spot to an otherwise abysmal start. Richards has four goals and an assist so far in the five games he has played. He has improved all the things that were haunting him last year. He looks a step quicker and his decision is back to the level that makes Richards an elite playmaker. He also looks so much more confident when the puck is on his stick. You don’t see him hurrying passes or making blind passes anymore. He is confident and is even shooting more than he ever has. His work on the power play has also been great as he is back to quarterbacking it. He is getting puck through to the net and giving guys like Ryan Callahan a chance to get garbage goals.
Just like the rest of the team, Richards still has areas he must improve on. Defensive coverage is killing the Rangers as a team, and Richards is not exempt from that. Richards’ plus minus is at a minus-four, but so is basically everyone else on the team. I expect the Rangers to start getting more comfortable with Alain Vigneault‘s new system and everyone’s stats should begin to improve.
If the Rangers are going to turn this ship around they need Richards to continue this hot streak. He is making everyone, especially me, eat their words about the team not buying him out over the summer.