|Richard Park |
Known mainly for his effective penalty killing, Richard Park has recently found himself playing on a line with Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie.
In an effort to shake things up and find some additional scoring, head coach Ted Nolan moved Ruslan Fedotenko from his usual spot alongside Comrie and Guerin. Initially, Chris Simon replaced him, but after Park scored his second goal in two games against Dallas on November 26, he quickly found himself in an unfamiliar place, playing with Comrie and Guerin on the top scoring line.
"Richard can be valuable wherever he plays," said Nolan. "Whether it's on a scoring line or the so-called fourth line, Park plays his game. We put him on the first line to generate some more speed, and he's looked pretty good up there. He's earned that spot."
For much of the season, Park found himself on what Nolan likes to call the "so-called fourth line," receiving minimal even-strength minutes, while racking up some time on the penalty kill.
After earning assists in five straight games, Park received some extra time, playing on a line with Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek, but once Sean Bergenheim returned, Park landed back with his original line and his fewer than ten-minutes-per-game scenario.
But that soon changed. Using his superior darting ability and workman-like effort, Park was able to contribute more than just as a puck-stopper on the man-down situations. Playing in just 7:38 against Boston on November 24, Park was able to pot the game-winner to show the coaching staff he deserved more ice time.
Since then, Park has increased his ice time in each of the proceeding games, topping out most recently against the Rangers on Thursday with nearly 17 minutes of ice time.
"It's just the way it is," said Nolan about Park's ice time. "We try to roll four lines and sometimes players get more ice time depending on the game. Richard always uses his time on the ice well, whether he's playing ten minutes or 20 minutes."
Having played in just over 12 minutes per game on average, Park has the least amount of ice time among Islanders who have skated in all 23 games. But that's no matter, Park has taken advantage of the time he's been given, scoring three goals and adding five assists. Not to mention, he ranks third on the team with a +3 rating.
Watch Richard Park and the rest of the Islanders take on the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at 7 pm at the Nassau Coliseum.
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