Richards a healthy scratch for Rangers

NEW YORK -- Veteran center and alternate captain Brad Richards will be a healthy scratch Thursday night as the Rangers face elimination against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Richards, who stayed on the ice late with the rest of the scratches during the team's optional morning skate, told reporters that coach John Tortorella called him to tell him the news Thursday morning.

"I don't know if 'surprised' is the right word, just disappointed," Richards said with an air of dejection.

The 33-year-old Richards, who signed a nine-year, $60 million deal in July 2011, and Tortorella won a Stanley Cup together in 2004 while with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that run to the Cup, Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the postseason.

The embattled forward has struggled mightily throughout this season, enduring demotions and diminished ice time as a result of poor performance. Most recently, he was relegated to the fourth line with wingers Chris Kreider and Arron Asham. In Game 3 against Boston, he received just 8 minutes, 10 seconds of ice time, only 5:58 of which came even strength.

Asked if it was hard to be effective in that role, Richards quickly interjected "Yes."