Mike Richards hoists the Stanley Cup. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
Mike Richards gave the Kings an offensive charge as soon as the Stanley Cup playoffs began. He had a goal and two assists against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the first round, won by the Kings, 4-2.
That's what Richards was brought to Los Angles to do, score. He was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23, 2011, having averaged 28 goals in his previous four seasons.
"There will be expectations, but no more, I think, than what I've had before," Richards said heading into the season. "I don't think there's any more pressure than what I put on myself."
He didn't live up to them at first.
Richards struggled at times during the regular season, finishing with 18 goals, his lowest output since scoring 10 in 2006-07. Part of that was because of an injury, as he missed eight games in December.
He went 25 games without a goal, from January to March. But it was Richards' shootout goal that beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, and started the Kings on a 9-2-3 run to finish the regular season. He had points in the last five games as the Kings secured the eighth and final playoff spot.
He continued that success in the playoffs. Richards scored 31 seconds into Game 2 against St. Louis, putting the Blues on their heels. He also had an assist in the 5-2 victory that sent the Kings home with a 2-0 series lead.
Richards had four assists in the Stanley Cup Final.
"I've never lost confidence in myself," said Richards, who was the 24th pick in the 2003 draft by the Flyers. "I always felt that even though I wasn't getting the points or getting the bounces, I was still playing pretty good hockey and knew if I stuck with it, it was going to come."