IS MIKE RICHARDS TURNING INTO STEVIE Y?
After the throng of cameras and microphones had wandered out of the Flyers' locker room following their thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Mike Richards was trying to catch his breath.
We stood there talking for a minute about his energy, and how it doesn't come off the ice with him after playoff games are over.
"I'm petty exhausted right now and emotionally it's draining," he told me. "It's nice to get the win because I would be even that much more tired if we had lost. I try to leave it all out there every night. I never want to save anything for the next day, because there may not be a next day."
And he's not joking. Richards has been sensational in the playoffs. Heck, it started in the last game of the season against the Rangers and has been building from there.
He's winning big faceoffs. He's killing penalties. He's scoring goals. He 's leading the team in assists. His six points in three games are, well, Crosby-like.
He's being a leader. And the Flyers are buying in to what he's doing and following.
“That’s certainly what you hope for," Peter Laviolette said. "Mike’s been our best forward for four games straight now. He’s really on both ends of the ice – offensively, defensively, penalty kill – he’s leading by example on the ice. He’s done an excellent job.”
And he has his teammates believing in him too.
“He’s playing amazing,” said Dan Carcillo, the scorer of the game-winning goal. “He’s an elite player in this league and he’s playing like it. He’s our leader. He doesn’t say much off the ice but on the ice it’s hard not to follow him. He’s really doing everything out there.”
Leave all the outspoken stuff to Chris Pronger, whose been the Flyers best defenseman. Richards will take care of how to play on the ice.
"He's got the worst body on the team but he puts his body in front of everything, whether it's a puck or anything," Ian Laperriere said while comparing Richards' physique to his eight-year-old son. "He's one of those all around players. He might not be as flashy as Crosby over on the other side of the state but he's as effective or even more."
Richards is doing it the way Yzerman used to for the Red Wings by letting his play do the talking.
"Everybody was playing that way, not just me," Richards said ever-so-humbly. "If I walked you back into our changing room right now you'd see about a dozen guys sprawled out on the couches. Everybody was working hard, finishing hits and doing what we need to do because it's the best time of the year to play hockey."
Thing is, they wouldn't be doing it if Richards weren't doing it first - just like a captain should.
Just a note or five to all the Devils' fans who took umbrage with my post prior to Game 2 about the atmosphere at Prudential Center:
First of all, I wanted to thank all of you for turning the comments section of my blog into a script from Jersey Shore. Fine family reading.
Secondly, you all complained that I used an old picture from a snow game rather than an actual picture from Game 2. Considering the blog was posted BEFORE the Game, that would be pretty difficult to do. There's an invention known as time-stamping. You should familiarize yourself with it.
Third, while the attendance was marginally better for Game 2 than Game 1 there were still a bunch of empty seats for Game 2. Again, the announced sell out was misleading. It's tickets sold, not tickets used.
Fourth... here's a reading comprehension lesson - don't just skim a story, read the whole thing. I credited the fans as knowledgeable. I just said they weren't passionate. I also wasn't a homer as many suggested, instead saying the best crowds were in Montreal and Washington. Then again, when you have an inferiority complex with Rangers fans to the north and Flyers fans to the south, I guess I shouldn't expect different.
(And by the way, BIG difference between crowds from Game 2 to Game 3... not even close)
Finally, I have noting but complete respect for the Devils as a franchise. I think they are one of the best-run organizations in all of professional sports. I'm sure many true Devils' fans appreciate all that Lou Lamoriello and his staff do to keep them as an elite NHL organization.
Shame those folks from North Jersey weren't the ones reading my blog.