Rangers Notebook: Richards misses game, Tortorella not concerned
Even though Brad Richards was declared out for last night’s nationally televised home match against the Flyers, head coach John Tortorella is not worried his star center will miss significant time.
“No,” the always-curt Tortorella said when asked if he was concerned it could be a long-term issue. “Banged up.”
Richards was cross-checked into the half boards 3:28 into the third period of Sunday’s game by Buffalo right wing Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking and given a game misconduct.
As per organizational policy, the Rangers did not disclose Richards’s condition.
Richards did not participate in practice Monday, and only skated briefly at the early skate Tuesday morning. TSN insider Darren Dreger tweeted in the mid-afternoon that he was told “Brad Richards is very stiff and sore and most definitely won’t play tonight.”
As a member of the Stars in 2010-11, Richards missed 10 games with a concussion. He finished that year with 28 goals and 77 points in 72 games.
The Rangers called up Micheal Haley from AHL Connecticut, where he recorded 158 penalty minutes in 56 games with the Whale this season. In 43 NHL games, all with the Islanders, Haley has totaled three points (two goals and an assist) and 151 penalty minutes.
Tortorella said he knows what Haley “brings in certain situations.”
The league announced late Monday afternoon that Kaleta had been suspended five games for boarding Richards. This is the fourth suspension in Kaleta’s 285-game NHL career, all played with the Sabres. The first game he is eligible to return is March 17 in Washington.
Kaleta told WGR 550, a sports radio station in Buffalo, that he watched replays of the hit numerous times, but wasn’t “going to get into it.” He added, “It’s over with and my focus now is forward and being able to help the guys when I can.”
Flyers still jelling
One of the issues to plague the Rangers over the first 20 games of the season has been a lack of identity.
Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette can empathize. He told reporters after the morning skate at the Garden he thinks his team “is working towards that identity.”
“I think, just based on the start of the year, there were some things that this team had to overcome,” Laviolette said.
The Flyers entered the game in the eighth spot in the East with a 11-11-1 record, but had won two in a row and seven out of their last 10.
One aspect of the Flyers’ game Laviolette expressed confidence in is the offensive attack. The Flyers rank sixth and ninth in the league, respectively, with 66 goals and a 2.87 goals per game average. Last year, the Flyers’ 260 goals and 3.17 goals per game average were second in the league.
“We want to get down to the offensive end; trying to score goals. I think we’re getting to that point. I think it’s starting to come,” Laviolette said. “We’re working on it.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.