Vindication can be a powerful motivator, and perhaps no player wants to succeed in Game 5 as badly as New York Rangers center Brad Richards.
The Rangers’ alternate captain, who contributed 20 goals and 31 assists during the regular season with five playoff goals and six assists before the Stanley Cup Final, has no points in this series and is minus-four in goals differential.
And he was demoted last game to the checking fourth line, off the Rangers line with potent scorers Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin.
“I actually played more five-on-five [Wednesday] than I did the night before,” Richards said. “You guys will read into it because I was on a different line. I haven't been where I need to be this series, so my ice time has been lower. We're trying to win games, to get to a chance to win a Cup, so ... .”
Richards said his performance in Game 2, when he was minus-three, was “rough,” and certainly what prompted Coach Alain Vigneault to make a change.
“I don't know what happened,” Richards said. “I just couldn't get out of my own way. Besides that, if I score a goal, you know, contribute or we win, you probably have a whole different feeling. When you get down, 3-0, you fight it a bit. That's the way it goes. But Game 2, I had a chance to maybe bury a [shot] that probably changes the whole mentality of the team and you, coming back 1-1. But it didn't. Guys are figuring out a way to get it done. Right now it's about that.”
POWER OUTAGE: The Kings’ Game 5 victory formula hinges mightily on these facts:
The Rangers are one for 17 on the power play this series and struggled to match the speed and intensity of the Kings’ line of Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson in Game 4.
“Our power play has had some good looks,” Vigneault said. “It obviously hasn't finished. You could say Benoit Pouliot's [Game 4] goal -- our guy was stepping on the ice -- [was] close to a power-play goal. It’s had some good looks, some good shots. You have to show trust and confidence in your guys that they'll get it done for you. Hopefully they will tonight.”
As for the so-called “That 70’s Line” of Toffoli (jersey No. 73), Carter (No. 77) and Pearson (No. 70), New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh said they were a major reason “we spent so much time in our zone [in the third period Wednesday] trying to block shots and defend,” as the Kings out-shot New York, 15-1, in the third.
“We felt we were under control, but they were making good plays, coming out of their zone clean. We at least kept them to the outside and didn’t let them get rebounds. … But we’re definitely not trying to sit on our heels.”
Vigneault said the Rangers need to revert to the style they showed in getting leads in the first two games.
“We were defending [in the third], we didn't have the puck,” he said. “When you don't have the puck, you're defending. We're going to try to have the puck a little bit more tonight. We're a good team when we go north-south real quick and have puck possession team in the other team's end. That's what we're going to do tonight.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times