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Mustangs on the playoff bubble, eager for Mike Richards return

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Mustangs on the playoff bubble, eager for Mike Richards return

December 19th, 2011

Pekka Rinne and the London Mustangs reminded the Toronto Red Devils that Stanley Cup champions aren’t crowned in December.

Losing most of the offensive stat categories vs. Toronto hurt a little bit, but it would have hurt far, far more had Mustangs goalie Pekka Rinne not won the goaltending categories, it would have placed the Mustangs on the outside of the playoff picture and looking in.

Rinne, who helped the Mustangs win the first AFHL Stanley Cup in 2009,  registered three wins with a 1.62 GAA and .957 SV% to help London defeat Toronto 6-4 in Week 10. The Mustangs are now 59-49-12 and rank 8th in the overall league standings.

“We don’t know how we’re going to win every week,” said Rinne. “We’re going to do it different ways with different guys, but all of us together at the same time. It’s been pretty nice to be back on this team so far this season.”

The Mustangs have had some trouble on offense this season as they currently rank 14th in the league for total points scored, but they have been without their star forward Mike Richards since December 1st.

“The sooner Richards returns, the better our offense will be,” said London GM Matt Plachta. “We’ve had a hard time finding a line combination that can consistently bring pressure like Richards can with guys like Simon Gagne and Matt Read. But his return would be a huge boost for sure.”

Richards, who suffered a head injury on December 1st, skated hard with the Mustangs’ extra players today before their first game against the Pittsburgh Heroes tonight. He hasn’t been cleared for contact but he was cleared to skate and try to maintain his physical condition. The key will be how he feels the rest of the day, which will signal whether he can continue to push himself.

Richards said he feels better, but he knows he must be patient.

“It’s still a process,” he said. “I think you can only go on how you feel. There’s never a timeline, which is the frustrating part of it. Whenever you feel ready to play you can play.”

He said he didn’t feel quite right but wasn’t sure if that was an offshoot of the injury.

“It’s hard to distinguish whether it’s taking two weeks off and going out there and skating or if it’s lingering effects but we’re going to take it slow,” he said. “We’re going to skate a couple times and see how I feel after that. I obviously hope to be back sooner than later.”

“It’s really hard taking two weeks off from skating. You could ride the bike as many times as you want but it’s not the same as simulating a game or on-ice skating.

“It went pretty good out there. It felt all right. Just a couple of spots where I was a little bit dazed but that could just be not skating for two weeks too. Or jet lag. Or all of the above.”

Being around the team, he said, should help lift his spirits.

“It’s nice to be around the team. You never like being away from them,’ he said. “I went home to clear my head a bit for a couple days and get some rest and try to recoup a little bit and come out here and meet the team.”

Categories : afhl

3 Comments

1
Manhattan GM Tony Furino
December 19th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Note: Mustangs got an article this week because GM Plachta’s participation level has been fantastic as of late.

2
London GM Matt Plachta
December 19th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Nice article Tony. Couldn’t have written it better myself.
Can’t wait for Richards to get back on the ice and give our team a boost.

3
Washington GM Rick Charron
December 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

yes great article, getting Richards back will help bigtime!

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