By John Cascio Jr

Brad Richards has come a long way in a short amount of time. Richards came in on a mission in the season’s second game against the LA Kings, scoring two of the three New York goals and more importantly, getting that first goal out of the way. The team was forced to endure a rather unique start this season as the refurbishing of Madison Square Garden forced a prolonged hiatus from New York, the first nine games were all road games.

To make matters more difficult, Rick Nash was out indefinitely with a concussion, Brad needed to step up and now. The Rangers only managed to win three of those nine games and yet Brad was still very productive during that time. Five goals and three assists was already proving to the critics that he was on the ice to play everyday. The next few games were quiet games for Brad as he only notched two assists over the next five games. Although he wasn’t scoring, the ice time logged and his contribution to the play with crisp passing, solid decision making and better fore-checking was helping the Rangers to win games. Over those five games New York won three before the Penguins came to town.

Pittsburgh played New York for the first time this season found out that the Rangers were beginning to mesh. With the captain Ryan Callahan back in the lineup, New York looked rejuvenated. Richards would have two very beautiful assists in the 5-1 routing handed down that night and skeptics alike were beginning to see that this team is for real. The next two games solidified that the early season struggles were just growing pains and Richards would continue to put up real numbers getting an assist against Columbus and scoring a goal along with an assist against Florida.

As of today Richards leads or shares the team lead in many offensive categories. His average ice time per game is a respectable 19 minutes and so far this season has failed to go a game without registering a shot on goal. His faceoff won/lost percentage close to 50% but that doesn’t tell any story at all. His heart and emotion are present every shift, Brad Richards is not only proving to the fans that he belongs in New York, he’s proving it to himself as well this season.