Brad Richards is a HUGE reason that this team is in first place. His presence in the lineup alone has made an enormous difference. He continues to play with a mediocre collection of talent, if even that, at even strength, and their power play is all bad, not just him.
He's scored 7 game winning goals for us this season. He spent the last number of years playing with very talented players, far more talented than the most talented line mate he has had this season, Callahan.
The team plays a very defensive-minded game.
He hasn't been great the last month, but he was pretty solid for most of the season given the circumstances. They will make a trade to upgrade the LW at the deadline, and I have no doubt his numbers will increase.
I wish more people would realize this rather than looking at numbers and thinking thats the end-all be-all. Richards' presence in the lineup is what has allowed Gaborik and Stepan to prosper this season more than anything else. Despite his recent struggles, he still demands respect and attention - thats why I think all this talk of uniting him with Gaborik is silly. Why give the opposition something they can easily focus on?
Richards has been centering the bottom 6 guys and really hadnt been getting any time on the PP point. That both changed last night and he had a good game.
Hes been a consumate professional here on and off the ice.