NEW YORK — So Brad Richards  won’t be in the lineup in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. That’s pretty big news purely from a standpoint of how far he’s fallen. As it pertains to this series, it isn’t really that big a deal unless the guy who plays in his place (Kris Newbury and Michael Haley are the candidates; fellow fourth-liner Arron Asham is a potential scratch as well) has a big performance.
John Tortorella was playing Richards on the fourth line. Richards played only 8:10 in Game 3, so although he’s a big name with a big contract (his nine-year, $60 million deal of which he’s in the second year screams amnesty buyout), it isn’t like the Rangers are taking one of their top-six forwards out of the lineup.
So when the Bruins, who were on the ice for their morning skate when Richards said he wasn’t playing in Game 4, found out about the development, they didn’t begin to think about all the questions that will accompany it (Has Richards played his last game as a Ranger? Will Tortorella get fired?).
“Obviously they’re going to make changes, but that’s their job,” Chris Kelly  said. “Our job is to focus on our team and be ready to play right from the drop of the puck and be ready to play a good road game.”
Daniel Paille  sees the move as something that will give the Rangers a greater focus in Game 4 as the team tries to stave off elimination.
“I think whoever’s going to take his spot is going to want to be a difference-maker, and it’s just going to make it that much harder,” he said. “I think that will wake up their team and [help them] realize that they have to play hard.”
The Bruins are clearly focused more on their lineup than New York’s. The B’s are expected to go with the same group they’ve used in the first three games of the series, as Dennis Seidenberg  and Wade Redden still aren’t expected to jump back in.
As for Richards’ take, he was a man of few words Thursday morning. He admitted that it was difficult to be productive on the fourth line, but that the development is all the motivation he needs for him to never let it happen again.
Richards won’t be the only new absence to the Rangers’ lineup. While Asham did not confirm that he is out, defensemen Anton Stralman was hurt in Game 3 and is expected to be replaced by Roman Hamrlik.