Mike Richards said in his pregame press conference that the fans of Philadelphia deserved having the Eastern Conference Final clincher played on the Wachovia Center ice.
He said that they deserved it for sticking behind them through the whirlwind of a season they had.
Richards put his body on the line once more—playing a hard 22 minutes and recording three points—as the Flyers slayed the Montreal Canadiens with a 4-2 win in Game Five Monday night at the Wachovia Center.
It was his first period game tying shorthanded goal that demonstrated why he dons the "C" on his left shoulder, and set the tone before a rambunctious hometown crowd.
On the penalty kill with Kimmo Timonen away for roughing, Richards relentlessly pursued a Claude Giroux clear—avoiding a collision with Jaroslav Halak and Roman Hamrlik—to get up and gracefully slide the puck into the empty net.
Richards collected the primary assist on Jeff Carter's game winning tally in the second period when completing a tic-tac-toe play, making a perfect dish from behind the net to Carter to push the Flyers lead to 3-1.
He wasn't done yet.
Richards picked up his second assist of the night—a diving effort to get the puck to Carter—for the empty-netter to seal the deal for the Flyers in the third period.
During his two year span as the Flyers captain, Richards has been criticized over and over again by the Philadelphia media.
He finally silenced all his critics by leading his team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
I never once questioned Richards as the captain because he's a winner, he's a leader, and he's the face of the Flyers. We knew this when in his rookie year (2005), and we know this now.
Richards has won at every level—winning the Memorial Cup, the OHL championship, the World Junior championship, a Calder Cup, as well as a Gold Medal in this year's Olympics.
And now, he's four wins away from hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup—the greatest trophy in sports.
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