However, his return probably didn’t follow the path Kings’ management had in mind when they first sent him down to the AHL in late January. You simply can’t prepare for every factor in the world of sports because some of what unfolds is ultimately out of your control – such as the team’s offense all but drying up following a eight-game winning streak in late February and, more recently, center Jarret Stoll being injured in a game against Vancouver. Enter Richards, who had been in Los Angeles participating in rigorous physical testing and training after playing 16 games in the AHL.
In advance of the Kings likely make-or-break road trip that will take them through the New York tri-state area, as well as Minnesota and Chicago, let’s have some fun with numbers:
– Throughout his career, Richards has been labeled a winner, having won championships at the junior, AHL, and NHL levels, plus earning an Olympic gold medal. His ability to help produce wins has also shown up on the score sheet. During his NHL career, he has scored 125 goals in 360 regular season wins. By contrast, he only has 54 goals in 344 losses. Thus, his teams are far more likely to win the game when he finds the back of the net.
– Breaking it down further, that was a trend that continued into last season. He had nine goals in 46 wins by the Kings, but only two goals in 36 regular season losses. Again, when Richards scored, the Kings were far more likely to win. Then, something strange happened this season – the numbers flipped. Sure, this isn’t all on Richards, as a lot of other factors go into wins and losses. Still, he only produced one goal in 20 Kings wins prior to being put on waivers, while scoring four goals in 27 losses. Although it doesn’t make much logical sense when isolated to a single variable, the Kings were far more likely to lose this season when Richards scored.
– The most productive day of the week during his NHL career has been Fridays, where he has averaged .32 goals per game played. However, that is a small sample size, as his 59 games played on Fridays are the fewest games comparted to any other day of the week. His Saturday totals are most impressive – when considering games played (184, the most) – where his .29 goals per game are not that far off of the Friday totals. Tuesday is also pretty good, .28 goals per game played.
– November has been Richards’ most productive month during his 704 NHL games. He has scored 43 goals in November, or .36 per game played. March has been nearly as good, in 125 games (the most of any month), he has scored at a .26 goals per game pace, tied for second best. For comparison purposes, January was been his worst month, only .18 goals/game.
– What about specific teams, you ask? The Devils, Islanders, and Rangers represent three of the teams he has played the most. Naturally, most of those game occurred when he was wearing a Flyers jersey. Still, his 13 goals each against the Rangers and Islanders represent his largest output vs. the other NHL teams.
– His output vs. New Jersey has been a paltry .16 goals per game (about half of what he’s produced against the two New York teams). Yet, the Wild have been like his kryptonite. Richards has a single goal vs. Minnesota in 17 games played, that’s a .06 goals per game. The only other team he has scored a single goal against is Philadelphia – but, he’s also only played them five times.
– Digging deeper, you can break down the numbers in specific arenas. Removing Philadelphia and Los Angeles from the equation, since he obviously has played a lot of home games in each locale, Richards’ has notched more goals at Madison Square Garden (six) than any other building in the league. Nassau Coliseum is a close second, with five goals.
– At the other end of the spectrum, Richards has a single goal in Minnesota over his nine career games there. If you’re the Kings, you probably like the fact that goal came earlier this season, which would at least put recent history on your side.
– Last season, Richards scored seven of his 11 goals at home. One of those road goals came at MSG – his last time playing the Rangers. Does that bode well for tomorrow’s game? Perhaps, as this season, Richards has only scored one goal at Staples Center, with his other four markers all coming on the road.
– As a team, the Kings have been far better at home this season than on the road. That hasn’t been true for Richards, though. Not only has he scored more on the road, but his plus-minus rating is better, as well. At home, Richards was a minus-8 prior to being sent down, but on the road he was a plus-one. His faceoff winning percentage was also slighting better when not playing in Los Angeles.
Now, with all of the above numbers floating around in your head, answer two questions:
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