For the second straight postseason, Brad Richards has been demoted to the New York Rangers’ fourth line after not playing up to his potential for long periods of time.
Coach Alain Vigneault demoted Richards after the Rangers fell into a 0-3 hole to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. The series now stands at 3-1 after New York took Game 4.
Richards received 13:20 of playing time in Game 4, a season-low in a campaign that’s stretched over 106 games to this point. He must not lose confidence in himself after being moved off the second line; he needs to turn it into motivation to help his team get back in the series.
Richards will still be an important player for New York, even on the fourth line. When the Rangers are at their best, they get contributions from everyone in their lineup. The team has already gotten some big goals from the fourth line this postseason and Richards desperately needs to break out of his slump.
He hasn’t scored a goal in 10 games and has just one assist in his last nine games. It’s hard to stay positive when you’re not producing in the playoffs and then you get demoted in the lineup. All Richards can do is play hard and make the most of every shift he gets moving forward.
While he hasn’t been playing great of late, Richards is still a very talented guy that can create for his teammates. He’ll still get chances on the power play and has to get pucks to the net in those situations. Richards has 11 shots on goal in the finals, which is tied for second on the team.
Considering Richards went though a similar demotion last year, he should know that this is a chance to motivate himself and also his teammates. The Rangers need every player in the lineup to bring their best effort; that’s the only way they have any chance of coming back against the Kings.
Richards won’t get nearly as many shifts on the fourth line, but he just needs to focus on the shifts he does get and help his team win.