Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: Rangers, Kings Acquisitions Shine Through Playoffs
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Along with the ability to score and setup goal scoring winger Marian Gaborik, Richards brought the experience of winning both a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy as the player judged most valuable to his team in the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2004.
Brad Richards proceeded to score 25 goals and 66 points during the regular season and now leads his Rangers with six goals and 12 points in postseason play.
On the other side of the country, the Los Angeles Kings acquired Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards in a trade for prospect Brayden Schenn, power forward Wayne Simmonds and a draft pick. While, Richards failed to match point totals established with the Flyers, he quietly amassed 18 goals and 44 points with the Kings.
Los Angeles continued bolstering their offense in a late season trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, sending defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick in exchange for high-scoring center Jeff Carter, a former teammate of Mike Richards in Philly.
One of the stories of the playoffs has been the play of Rangers rookie Chris Kreider, who suited up for the team after completing a second season with the Boston College Eagles. Kreider has scored four goals and added two assists and thrown 22 hits in 14 postseason games with virtually no NHL experience.
Off-ice proficiency leads to on-ice results. The acquisitions of these key players has both the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings vying for a Stanley Cup.
The Rangers' signed Richards for a king's ransom this offseason, but it seems worth the investment so far.
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Brad Richards was thought by many to be the prize of the 2011 NHL free-agent class.
After posting lofty point totals in both Tampa Bay and Dallas, the Rangers signed the 32-year-old to a lengthy, high-paying contract to reunite him with head coach John Tortorella, who coached Richards to a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy with Tampa Bay in 2004.
The idea was for Richards to center the Rangers' top line with lightning fast, goal-scoring winger Marian Gaborik playing at his side. The combo proved lethal, scoring a combined 66 goals during the regular season. The tandem continued their high level of play in the playoffs, scoring a combined 10 goals through 16 games.
Richards has been the Rangers' best player short of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist this postseason. He's played well in all three zones, leading the team in points and managing an even plus/minus rating.
As the Rangers continue their Eastern Conference Final against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils toward a potential Stanley Cup series, they will rely heavily on Brad Richards to continue leading the way.
Richards arrived in SoCal via an offseason trade.
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Perhaps no one was more shocked at the news that the Philadelphia Flyers had dealt their captain than Mike Richards himself.
After leading the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final in 2010, the management team in Philadelphia shipped the 27-year-old to Los Angeles to clear cap space for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Richards managed 18 goals and 44 points in SoCal this season, a far cry from his 80-point season only three years ago, but he developed his defensive game and provided the Kings with a physical presence.
Through 12 postseason games, Richards ranks fourth on the team with 10 points, but he has the ability to play at another level fans have yet to see this postseason.
Richards is out to prove the Flyers were wrong in trading him. Wrong in not believing in him.
If the Kings advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, look for Richards to elevate his game, especially against his former Atlantic Division rivals in either the New York Rangers or the New Jersey Devils, whom he played against many times in his tenure with Philly.
The Kings traded for Jeff Carter near the deadline after an injury-riddled stint in Columbus.
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The Flyers sent high scoring forward Jeff Carter to Columbus on the same day they traded their captain. Carter never really found his stride with the Blue Jackets, partly because of injury, but received a second chance of sorts when the Blue Jackets sent him to Los Angeles for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick.
The trade reunited Carter with Mike Richards, with whom he logged a lot of ice time in Philadelphia, and added to the Kings' arsenal of scorers.
In 16 games with the Kings, Carter scored six times. His offensive production dwindled in the postseason until Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in which he scored a hat trick en route to a 4-0 Kings victory.
Carter scored 33 or more goals in his last three seasons before being traded, notching a career high 46 in 2008-2009, proving he has the ability to score in bunches at the NHL level.
As the postseason progresses, look for Carter to tickle the twine more frequently.
Kreider joined the Rangers this postseason after finishing his junior year at Boston College.
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While he isn't necessarily an "acquisition," Chris Kreider proved to be quite a surprise for the Blueshirts this postseason.
After helping the Boston College Eagles to a 2012 NCAA Frozen Four Championship, the 21-year-old decided it was time to turn professional and joined the New York Rangers for their postseason run.
In 14 games, he's managed four goals and two assists in addition to 22 hits.
At 6'3", 230 pounds, the former first-round draft pick adds more size to the Rangers and a net front presence on a second line with team captain Ryan Callahan and center Derek Stepan.
The future looks bright for this former Boston Eagle, and he still has a chance to be a difference maker for the Rangers in these playoffs.