NHL Playoffs 2012: Brad Richards Is Living Up to the Playoff Hype

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Herb Brooks once said that "great moments were born from great opportunities." Brad Richards and the New York Rangers had a great moment born out of a great opportunity against the Washington Capitals on Monday evening at Madison Square Garden.

When Joel Ward went to the penalty box for a high sticking double minor, no one thought it would be the difference considering the time left on the clock.

Heading into the final two power plays, the Rangers were 0-3 with no shots on goal, but it was Richards' goal that propelled the Rangers into overtime.  

The Rangers have played in 12 playoff games up to this point and in those 12 games, Brad Richards has 10 points. Richards' five goals and five assists places him fourth in scoring during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He is playing like the clutch playoff performer he is known for and his game-tying goal with 6.6 seconds left in regulation was just another clutch performance for the $12 million man. 

Richards scored a clutch goal for the Rangers during the Winter Classic in Philadelphia, a game-winner with seconds remaining in Phoenix and an overtime thriller against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The list goes on an on as Richards was fifth in game-winning-goals with nine game-winners during the regular season, but Monday's goal was arguably the Rangers' biggest goal scored in the last 15 years.

It is so similar to the goal that Chris Drury scored against the Rangers when he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Though the goals are similar, the impact the goals had are drastically different.

Despite Richards' clutch efforts during the regular season, the fans didn't always have Richards' back.

Fans were a bit disappointed with Richards and the struggling powerplay—he was supposed to fix it in their minds—during the regular season. However, the Rangers are a team that takes everything one game at a time and Richards always seemed to redeem himself when least expected.

Each game, little by little, Richards showed signs of improvement.  Richards finished with 25 goals and 41 assists for 66 overall points.

It was a great effort considering the style change Richards had to endure under head coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella may have coached Richards before but he is a completely different coach now than he was when he was running Tampa Bay’s bench in the early 2000s. Tortorella strictly enforces a hard-nosed, blue collar defensive system where every player needs to hit, check, block shots and play smart.

If you don’t play two-way hockey, you sit on the bench. Lucky for Richards, he is a player who can play in both ends and has improved defensively over the years.

Richards is a career minus-player, but that was during a time when Richards was a younger player who thought primarily about offense.

With Richards leading the charge, the Rangers have an advantage in the playoffs as the games get tougher. Richards has played like a true playoff veteran, and his game-tying-goal really can be looked upon as a catalyst for changing the momentum in this series.

Richards' presence and leadership is also a huge boost to the Blueshirts as they further endure the playoff grind—and that shows.

Captain Ryan Callahan had this to say about Richards' game-tying goal.

“I think it’s fitting that Richie gets the one to tie it up,” Callahan said.

 

Adam Herman of the Rangers' blog BlueLineStation said it best when describing Richards' goal and what he brings to the table as a player.

 

 

 

 

 

On July 2, 2011, Brad Richards signed a contract with the Rangers for nine years. Ten months later he is continually proving why Glen Sather made the investment to sign "Broadway Brad."

In a postgame interview the man of the hour put the goal into perspective like no one else could.

“I can’t say I envisioned a goal in the final seconds to send a game to overtime, but an important goal in the playoffs and with the crowd going crazy? Yes, that’s what you dream of,” Richards said. “I love playing in the Garden.” — via New York Times

 

The lights on Broadway couldn't be any brighter with the Rangers on the verge of entering the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since the 1997 and they have yet to phase Richards, who couldn't be happier to be in New York.

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