CHICAGO -- Mike Richards was a late scratch for the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks after a quick conversation with his coach just before the contest was about to begin.
Center - LAK
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 10
SOG: 22 | +/-: 4
Richards was on the United Center ice Sunday night for the pregame warmup, but he was removed from the lineup in favor of rookie forward Tyler Toffoli
The Blackhawks won 4-1 to take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-7 series.
"He was fine today, then I think just once his blood got pumping tonight, the adrenaline got going, there were symptoms," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "I went in right after warmup, he was sitting there and I said, 'Unless you're 100 percent, you're not playing.'"
Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland knocked Richards to the ice with 1:52 left in the third period of Game 1 on a hit just to the right of goaltender Corey Crawford. Richards was slow to get up, and leaned against the boards near the Kings' bench for several seconds after there was a stoppage of play.
Three hours before the game, Sutter said Richards was "fine," but that proved to not be the case. Game 3 is on Tuesday at Staples Center, and as is typically the case with any apparent head injury, Richards' availability is uncertain.
"I don't really know," Sutter said. "Literally I talked to him for a minute before the game. I didn't feel -- and he didn't feel -- he should play, either."
Richards typically centers the second line for Los Angeles, so to replace him, right wing Jeff Carter shifted over and Toffoli moved into Carter's spot. Carter has played center for much of his NHL career, but losing a top two-way center like Richards was still going to be a blow.
"Yeah, that doesn't change anybody's job," goaltender Jonathan Quick said. "Everyone still has the same job, so that shouldn't change anything."
The reconfigured second line was probably Los Angeles' best Sunday. Carter scored late in the second period on a feed from Toffoli, and the rookie scored with 1:02 left in the third on the power play.
They combined for 10 shots on goal, and had several other quality scoring chances to go along with the two goals.
"I went in right after warmup, he was sitting there and I said, 'Unless you're 100 percent, you're not playing.'" -- Kings coach Darryl Sutter to Mike Richards
"I had enough chances to get at least one if not two," Kings winger Dustin Penner said. "For whatever reason, I think we had a few guys out there who could have potted a goal. We're going to have to be a lot better at bearing down on those chances in Game 3."
Toffoli was a healthy scratch in Game 1 of this series, but had played in six of the seven contests against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Semifinals. He doubled his career postseason total with a goal and an assist.
The 21-year-old is one of Los Angeles' top prospects, and he has found his name on the lineup sheet for nine playoff games after suiting up for 10 contests in the regular season. Los Angeles returned all of its forwards that played during the Stanley Cup run last season.
"He came in and showed a lot of poise, especially for not having played in a while. He made some patient plays -- the one to [Carter on his goal], holding the puck after getting it in the middle instead of just putting a slap shot wide. He's going to be a good player. He keeps getting better."