W2W4: Rangers Open Five-Game Trip, Face Stars in Dallas

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Players To Watch

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Rangers-Brad Richards: Though he said on Wednesday that returning to Dallas for the first time since signing as a free agent with the Rangers in the summer of 2011 will be nothing like his return to Tampa after being traded away by the Lightning during the 2007-08 season, there still will be a little something special going for the ex-Dallas Star Thursday night. Richards spent three-plus seasons with the Stars after his shocking trade from the Lightning, and there was a memorable run to the 2008 Western Conference Finals, but he does not speak fondly or wistfully at all of his time in Dallas. Now in his third season as a Ranger, Richards leads the team in points (16) and is tied for the team lead in goals (6) and assists (10). Though held scoreless in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Bruins, Richards still recorded five shots on goal and had 11 attempted shots while skating at center with Rick Nash on his left and Ryan Callahan on his right. That threesome clicked right away, and will be interesting to see how well Richards---who is already playing at a high level---will play with those two quality linemates moving forward.

 

Stars-Kari Lehtonen: The 30 year-old native of Finland is having a terrific start to his 2013-14 season. Lehtonen, the NHL's second overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, is 10-3-2 in 15 starts with a 2.01 goals against average and .934 save percentage. His GAA is eighth best in the NHL, while his save percentage ranks ninth heading into Thursday's action. This is making for a nice bounce back year for Lehtonen, who struggled much of last season, finishing with a 2.66 GAA, .916 save percentage and only 15 wins in 36 appearances. After arriving in a trade from Atlanta five seasons ago, Lehtonen found a home in Dallas and established himself with 34 victories in 2010-11 and 32 more in 2011-12, though he is still looking to lead the Stars to the playoffs for the first time as their goaltender.