Feb 13, 2012, 6:21 PM EDT
With just 28 points in 49 games, Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards has seen his fair share of critics this season.
Not among those critics? His head coach, Darryl Sutter.
“I think that everybody is way too critical of Mike Richards,” Sutter told Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider. “What he brings is not just measured in statistics.’’
That quote is probably music to Richards’ ears, because his statistics have been lousy since Sutter came on board. Richards has just eight points in his last 22 games while going goalless over his last 12 — not the numbers one expects from a two-time 30-goal man that spent two years in Philadelphia scoring at a point-a-game clip.
That said, Richards recently displayed the intangibles Sutter was talking about after being put on a line with rookie wingers Dwight King and Jordan Nolan. Richards had five shots against the Islanders on Saturday, then assisted on Nolan’s game-winning goal in a 4-2 win over Dallas on Sunday, providing playmaking and leadership for a pair of kids with 10 games of combined NHL experience.
But for all that Richards gave the youngsters, they provided something he’s lacked this season — space.
“After the game against the Islanders, Richards noted how King and Nolan opened up space on the ice with their work ethic,” Hammond writes. “Richards excels when given that space. It’s not unfair to question whether playing with Dustin Penner wasn’t allowing Richards to have that space. “
So, to recap: 1) Everybody is way too critical of Richards, and 2) Everybody is justly critical of Captain Pancake.
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