Brad Richards finds his game for Rangers just in time for playoffs

Rangers center Brad Richards celebrates his second of

Rangers center Brad Richards celebrates his second of three goals against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period. (April 19, 2013) (Credit: AP)

After playing subpar for most of this shortened season, during which he looked absolutely lost at times, Brad Richards has found his game in the last few weeks, with two assists Saturday and five goals and 11 points in the past six games.

Naturally, the veteran center is looking forward to the playoffs.

"I started contributing and it just feels better," said Richards, who suffered through a miserable 18-game stretch, starting March 12, with just two goals and seven points. "If it's an 82-game season, I probably don't let some of the stuff get to me like I did. It's tough to see your team battling in the seventh, eight, ninth spot if you aren't producing.

"I may have forced it a bit because of the short season. I got out of my game and my mind got in the way a little bit. Finally, something broke through. My teammates were doing a great job of keeping us afloat."

Richards finished the 48-game regular season third on the team with 34 points, and he was second in assists (23), behind Derek Stepan (26). Richards led the team in assists last season with 41.

 

Henrik: Team MVP

Henrik Lundqvist, who was voted as the most valuable Ranger by the New York media, is also on a hot streak and recorded his 24th win and 51st shutout of his career.

"I feel good, especially the last three or weeks," said Lundqvist, who was 10-3-1 in April. "You want to finish strong before the playoffs and feel good about yourself and your game."

 

Eager for playoffs

For Mats Zuccarello, who has played in the Olympics for Norway and in the KHL postseason, this will be his first NHL playoffs.

"Now the season starts," said Zuccarello, who was injured at the end of last year, but has three goals and five assists in 15 games since his return from Russia. "It's going to be a good experience for me; hopefully we can play the same way we have for the last month."

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