NHL Playoffs 2012: Mike Richards Shows Why the Los Angeles Kings Traded for Him

Jason LewisCorrespondent IIApril 12, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 11: Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings is congratulated by Anze Kopitar #11 after scoring against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 11, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

It was an intense Game 1 of the 2012 NHL playoffs Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. But the Kings prevailed 4-2 in a thriller over the No. 1-seeded Canucks.

Of the many storylines over the course of the season for the Kings, none was bigger than the acquisition, and then subsequent below-average production of center Mike Richards.

But Richards, after having his worst season (44 points in 74 games) since the '06-07 season, sent a shot across the bow of the hockey world. Mike Richards is here, and he is the same Mike Richards that was once considered one of the best two-way centers in the league.

Richards opened up the Kings-Canucks series with a three-point, plus-two performance, and at least one bone-crushing hit on Canucks forward Alex Burrows.

He opened up the Kings series scoring by netting the tying goal on a 5-on-3 power play, and the veteran savvy was apparent. Richards caught Roberto Luongo playing pass and slid a nifty fake pass-shot from the wide side in five-hole on Luongo.

Take a look here for his first goal of the postseason.

Richards followed up later in the game by creating a turnover at the Canucks blue line with 3:30 left in the third period, which led to Dustin Penner tucking away the game-winner.

Watch Richards create the turnover that led to the game-winner here.

He would add another assist on Dustin Brown's empty-netter to cap off the night.

Also adding to the night was Richards' massive hit on Alex Burrows in the final minute of play.


Check the hit out right here >>>>>

It's safe to say that Mike Richards has a lot of fans in L.A. on the fence. His performance this year wasn't particularly lackluster, but it was not what Kings fans were expecting from such a highly-touted player with the Flyers.

But Game 1 should satisfy the desires of many critics—Richards definitely showed why he has been noted for his big-game play.

The Kings have lacked that player the last two playoff appearances, but Richards is a heart and soul kind of guy. Hopefully he can keep up the huge hits, the production, and the clutch play.

This kind of thing is contagious, as one player making a difference spurs on another. If the Kings can get rolling behind Mike Richards, the No. 8 seeds out West just may be much scarier then originally thought.