Brad Richards Starting To Come Alive For The New York Rangers

The New York Rangers got a much needed win Sunday night, finding a way around the New York Islanders thanks to a last-second overtime snipe from Marian Gaborik. But along with the two points (which the Rangers needed desperately thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins' ninth-straight win Sunday night to pull within four points of New York) the Rangers might have gotten their best game from Brad Richards.

For full disclosure, I've been a fan of Richards' game this season. Yes, the assists could be higher, but the reality is that a play is judged by more than just goals and assists. Richards has been, in my opinion, playing solid hockey. You have to remember that a playmaker is only as good as his best scorer sometimes.

Richards has made threatening passes all season, many of which have become prime scoring chances which have gone unfinished. Still, I think Richards has done quite a good job. Now, I'm also not going to sit here and tell you that there is no room for improvement. Richards certainly didn't have a good stretch of games midway through the year.

Join me after the jump for more.

In the win, Richards finished the game with two goals and the primary assist on Gaborik's game-winner in overtime. He was the only one who seemed willing to shoot the puck on the power play, and he dragged the Rangers back into the game twice when no one else seemed to be able to put the puck into the back of the net.

It was a stunning performance, and one Rangers fans have been waiting a long time to see. I'm still of the mindset that you can't judge a player based soley on the number of goals and assists he has. And it would appear that John Tortorella agrees.

Tortorella told this to the media Sunday after the game that Richards is hard on himself but he's done things right all year.

Still, Richards is hard on himself because he understands that he could be doing better. We all lived through the "little things right" with Chris Drury, so Richards has to produce on the ice as well. And lately he has. Which is good news for both him and the Rangers.

Speaking of players Tortorella praised. Matts Zuccarello got a big thumbs up from the coach, and had a solid game in my opinion. People have been demanding for Zuccarello all year, and his performanceagainst the Islanders probably won't silence their cries. Either way, it's a big game from a guy who is trying to prove that he belongs with the big club.

Thoughts guys?