Cam Atkinson, the Jackets’ No. 3 goal scorer (18 goals), will sit for a second straight game.
“We wanted to get those two guys in (Comeau and Tropp) to provide some energy and physical play,” Richards said. “When that happens, guys have to come out of the lineup. We need everyone’s best performance and best effort. “
Has he gotten that from Atkinson?
“He’s been fine,” Richards said. “But guys have to come out if you’re looking to put guys in. He’s not at the top of his game, but coming out of the Chicago game I could have thrown all the names in a hat and pulled one out.
“It was the element that we needed. I think what Blake and Tropper bring is up and down their wing, crash and bang, 100 percent effort every night, every game, every shift.”
Before Saturday, Atkinson had never been a healthy scratch in his hockey-playing life. But he said he knew he was on notice when he only played one shift of the third period in Chicago. He was briefly dropped to the fourth line during a rough stretch earlier this season, but his relegation to the press box took him by surprise.
Atkinson and Richards met this morning.
“It’s a shock,” Atkinson said. “It’s very disappointing because I feel like me playing helps the team a lot more than me watching. But if (Richards) doesn’t think I’m playing up to par, I told him I agree with him. He said there is a lot more he thinks he can get out of me. But a lot of that has to do with communication. I feel like today was the first stepping stone to that. Other than that, I think I’d kind of been out of the loop.”