Rangers-Brad Richards: His head coach said Richards played his best game of the season in Thursday's 4-1 win over the Lightning, and the Rangers are hopeful that this might be the start of a strong run for the Blueshirts alternate captain. Richards played 21:36 Thursday, assisted on Rick Nash's goal, fired three shots on goal, and dominated in the faceoff circle winning 17 of 20 draws. Most importantly he played confidently with the puck, didn't rush his decisions, and seemed much more like the player the Rangers depend upon to be their No. 1 center. Richards leads the Rangers with 11 assists, and is second on the team with 13 points, and has produced points in back-to-back games. Richards has not scored a goal in 15 games, and as of late his scoring chances were becoming few and far between. His three shots Thursday were the most he has produced in eight games, and more chances should be coming his way playing on the same line with Nash moving forward.
Sabres-Thomas Vanek: Though he was scratched from Saturday's win over New Jersey due to an upper body injury, Sabres coach Ron Rolston indicated that Vanek might be able to play against the Rangers on Sunday. The third-leading scorer in the NHL, Vanek has totaled 27 points through 20 games, though the majority of his production occurred earlier in the season. Vanek exploded out of the starting gate with a five-point effort on opening night against the Flyers, and proceeded to record points in each of the first eight games of the 2013 season. He totaled an incredible 19 points (8-11-19) in that span, including a second five-point game on January 31st in Boston. However as of late Vanek has cooled off considerably, with just one goal and four points in his last nine matches.