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Are We Seeing Brad Richards Come Alive?

Brad Richards is heating up at the right time. But is he heating up or is it more luck?

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Three games doesn't make a season. In fact, three games really isn't a big enough sample size to prove anything, even in this shortened season. But if the past three games are the start of something for Brad Richards, let's just say the future looks bright.

The Rangers No. 1 center has gone through the toughest season in his NHL career. Richards has had serious struggles with everything, from handling the puck all the way to producing in general despite massive ice time and significant power play minutes. His game hasn't been there. Actually, it hasn't even been in the building most nights.

There have been flashes of the Richards from last year, don't get me wrong. And even with his struggles he still has 30 points in 43 games this year. But Richards hasn't been what the Rangers have needed him to be, and the team's struggles during various points of this season can be attributed to Richard's struggles.

There's always pressure on your top players.

But for the past three games Richards has been, well, really good. Seven points in the last three games, including his first career hat trick on Friday and three wins for the Rangers. Those are big numbers from a big player who really needs to get going. So is this a sign he's going to get going?

I think it might be. From the beginning of the season Richards has made it clear that he's been gripping the stick a little tighter and many people who are in the locker room every game have theories that his confidence wasn't there either. The confidence is back of late, and his numbers reflect that.

Richards was even named the second star of the week at NHL.com, which is a huge honor for a guy who wasn't able to find his offense earlier in the year.

Here's what we know: The game can come and go so quickly it's tough to tell when a short stretch of hockey is just that or something more. But what I do know is what I've seen, and Richards' play has been so much better of late it's almost unbelievable.

Will that last? Well, the Rangers are hoping it will. So are the fans. And, actually, so is Richards.

We'll find out soon enough.