Mike Richards played a season-low 9 minutes 7 seconds against the New York Rangers, including a mere two shifts in the third period, on Thursday.
And it appeared that Richards might end up being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career, based on practice alignments on Friday.
On Saturday, however, appearances changed a bit.
Center Andy Andreoff stayed on for extra work following the morning skate, and Richards did not, an indication Richards could be in the lineup against Winnipeg.
“Mike Richards, the last time we played the Winnipeg Jets [Oct. 12], he played 17 minutes and 50 seconds,” Sutter said on Saturday.
“Mike hasn’t been feeling all that great. And we’ve been trying to watch him. He’s one of the guys, last week, when we gave guys time off, he was one of the guys here every day.”
Questions and criticism about Richards' performance have not been limited to the media. Sutter himself called out Richards for a miscue on Buffalo's game-winning goal against the Kings on Dec. 9.
His ice time has been cut back and Richards admitted that it has been difficult, but added the other day: “I’m not going to cause a scene or do anything to take the focus away from everything.”
In the last nine games, there have been more games in the 11-minute range of ice time and just one in excess of 14 minutes.