Mike Richards has 14 goals in 45 games this season, a respectable total, but what an odd season it has been for Richards. In an 11-game stretch from early November to early December, Richards had nine goals in 11 games, a torrid pace. Then, Richards suffered a concussion and missed eight games. Upon his return, he scored a goal in each of his first two games, but now has scored just one goal in his last 18 games. That would lead to a fair question: coming off his injury, is Richards feeling OK? He says yes.
RICHARDS: “I feel good out there. That’s what is frustrating. When you’re feeling good on the ice, you think that good things should come from it. It’s frustrating when you work so hard and get nothing from it. It is what it is. Everybody goes through it. It’s something that you just have to fight through.’’
Richards is certainly among the players Darryl Sutter talks about when saying that he needs more from his best players, but Sutter seems encouraged that Richards — while not scoring — has turned in better efforts of late, and Sutter made the valid point that Richards isn’t getting much help from his linemates. Richards’ playmaking skills aren’t going to lead to much if Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, etc., don’t finish chances.
SUTTER: “I think he [Richards] played hard in St. Louis, which was a tough game to play in. He played hard, and then the other night (in Carolina) he did a really good job for us. Other than that, I’m not looking too far back. He’s got his work cut out tomorrow, with Vinny (Lecavalier) and (Steven) Stamkos, or whoever he’s against. We know that.
“He’s a real honest player. He shows up 99 percent of the time. If you’re just measuring it with stats, well, his wingers have to got to score. It doesn’t matter where he’s been. He’s been a 20-some goal scorer, and that’s what he’s going to do again. But a lot of his productivity has been in making plays, and it still is. In some situations you say, `Well, he should have shot,’’ but that’s not where he normally shoots. He’s looking to make a play, and he’s making it but he needs guys to finish for him. I said, right from day one, if you look at it on paper, you’ve got to like our centermen. You can critique all you want, but it’s hard not to like those young guys. They’re going to get better, and they’ve got something to offer now.’’