During the late stages of Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime Stanley Cup Finals victory of the Chicago Blackhawks, Flyers captain Mike Richards looked sluggish. With little jump, the 25-year-old center could be seen hunched over with elbows on his knees, as he coasted back to the bench.
It looked like he was out of gas.
“At times, it looks like he wants to do something but his body just won’t allow him to do it,” one unnamed former played told Steve Simmons of the QMI Agency. “It looks to me like he’s physically worn down.”
And that could very well be true. Richards, who averaged 20:24 of ice time a game in the regular season and 21:53 so far in the post season, the most among team forwards, is on his 110th contest of the season. A player that relies on his physical ability to be effective, Richards was under extreme conditions mentally and physically when he helped carry the Flyers back from 3-0 against the Boston Bruins and almost single-handedly carrying his team to victory in five games against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals. It had to be taxing.
This fatigue factor could very well be the reason that the Jeff Carter – Mike Richards – Simon Gagne line has struggled to produce in the finals, scoring a combined one goal and two assists in three games.
But Richards won’t admit that.
“It has been tough luck,” Richards said explaining the lack of production. “We’re getting opportunities, but we’re missing nets and he’s making saves. But it definitely would be nice to contribute and get some goals.”
Flyers fans hope Richards can find a third or even fourth wind because with the series decided by three one-goal games, the production of Richards and his line could tilt the Stanley Cup in Philly’s favor.