It must feel a little like a deja-vu for Brad Richards.
Former coach John Tortorella demoted the proud, veteran center to the fourth line at the end of last season and then benched him for two playoff games.
Wednesday night, Richards, who has been struggling, was dropped to the fourth line by coach Alain Vigneault. He played left wing with Brian Boyle at center. Dominic Moore took his place on a line with Chris Kreider and Martin St. Louis.
"This morning, I met with all the lines individually, talked about certain assignments I wanted," Vigneault said. "I talked to Brad. At this time of year, it's only about one thing: the team. You guys know how Richards has been this year, the ultimate pro. He's fine with whatever I do."
Richards played just 13 shifts in 13:20, including 3:58 on the 0-for-3 power play, with two shots, two misses and one attempt blocked.
Now, Girardi can laugh
Dan Girardi, whose flubbed pass in his own zone gave the Kings the overtime goal in Game 1, had another unfortunate turnover that cost the Rangers a goal. This time, his stick simply broke, allowing a breakaway by Dustin Brown, who scored in the second period to cut the 2-0 lead in half.
"I want to get it over to Johnny [Moore]," Girardi said. "The wood part broke right where my [composite] stick starts [near the top]. All I could do was shake my head and laugh when I got to the bench . . . absolutely nothing you can do. I'm kind of getting sick of what's happening."
The Kings won 63 percent of the faceoffs, and allowed just 19 shots on Jonathan Quick. "That's the best they've played in the series," said Vigneault, who appreciated the puck luck. "I've been in the game a long time to know that sometimes the hockey gods are there. They were there tonight." . . . Vigneault decided not to dress Dan Carcillo, who was eligible to play after serving a six-game suspension.