NHL Playoffs 2013: Is this the end of the road for the Rangers Richards?

Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Already down 3-1 in the series, the New York Rangers will find themselves in an all too familiar place this postseason when the take the ice tonight in a must win game 5 back in Boston.

With Anton Stralman (undisclosed injury), Marc Staal (eye), Ryane Clowe, and seldom used center Darrell Powe (both coming back from presumed concussions) all sidelined with injuries and not practicing yesterday, even more disheartening was news coming from the locker room this morning that $60 million free agent bust Brad Richards will once again not suit up for the Blueshirts in this win or go home matchup against the Bruins.

Richards, who was relegated to the Rangers fourth line after a experiencing a steep drop off in production, has just not been effective enough to even warrant his allotted 8 minutes of ice team in this years playoff run.  With a player of his caliber having been largely ineffective this postseason and the game seemingly passing him by, New York head coach John Tortorella had no choice but to sit the aging veteran in favor putting out of a more physical line after the Rangers were manhandled by Boston the first few games of the series.  Kris Newbury and Michael Haley will once again get the nod tonight alongside Derek Dorsett in what everyone knows has not been an easy decision for Tortorella.

Torts, having won the cup with Richards while head coach of the Lightning certainly has a soft spot for the Rangers 33 year-old center, calling him ‘one helluva hockey player’.  Speaking with NY Post’s Howie Kussoy, Tortorella went on to say “I look at the fourth line, I’m looking just to get some sort of life and some sort of identity on that fourth line and that’s where Brad comes out and I go with these guys here,” continuing on, “You get some fresh legs, you get some enthusiasm. … I thought they gave us some good shifts. For the most part, I thought they did a pretty good job.”

Having seen limited action both this season and postseason, Newbury and Haley will be counted as the the counter punch to Boston’s pesky fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.

Even as classy and respected as a player like Richards is around the league, should the Rangers either win or lose tonight, with some tough decisions already lying in wait for them this offseason, the New York faithful may have unfortunately seen the last of Brad Richards in a Rangers uniform.

 

Topics: Anton Stralman, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Daniel Paille, Derek Stepan, FanSided, Gregory Campbell, Henrik Lundqvist, John Tortorella, Latest, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Milan Lucic, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL Playoffs, Ryan McDonagh, Shawn Thornton, Si.com, Sports Illustrated, Zdeno Chara

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