Friday, 10.14.2011 / 8:00 AM
Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
During his tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers, Mike Richards
was the center of attention as captain for a competitive team in a sports-crazed city.
Now a member of the Los Angeles Kings, Richards admits it's nice to take a backseat to some of his other high-profile teammates.
Richards returns to Philadelphia on Saturday night for the first time since being traded this offseason as the Kings look to prevent the Flyers from posting their best start in 16 years.
Part of Philadelphia's roster overhaul this summer, Richards was sent to Los Angeles (1-1-1) for wingers Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds. That brought a surprising end to his six-year run - three as captain - with the Flyers, including a Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2010.
The veteran center had a goal and an assist in his victorious Kings debut but has since gone pointless with a minus-3 rating as Los Angeles lost both games. Still, Richards says he's more relaxed with his new team.
"It could be the lifestyle, but with (Anze Kopitar
), (Drew) Doughty, (Jack Johnson
), (captain Dustin Brown
) - it's more spread out," Richards told the NHL's official website. "In Philadelphia, there was always that spotlight."
That relaxation may not last long when he steps on the ice at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I expect to be nervous playing on the opposite side against a lot of great friends," Richards said. "It's a great atmosphere so I expect a lot of excitement too, but I think it's going to be nice to get it over with and turn the page."
Richards had 349 points during his time in Philadelphia, and Flyers winger Danny Briere doesn't expect him to let up against his former team.
"It's going to be mixed feelings, I think, for him," Briere said. "I don't think he'll ever forget the good times he had here. But at the same time, he's moving on and I'm sure he wants to start something special in L.A. as well."
Briere's club is coming off a 5-4 win over defending Western Conference champion Vancouver on Wednesday. The Flyers (3-0-0) have beaten both of last season's Stanley Cup finals representatives after a 2-1 win over Boston on opening night Oct. 6.
Claude Giroux has scored in all three games after netting a power-play goal in the first period Wednesday, then adding two assists. Captain Chris Pronger had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, which hasn't won its first four games since 1995.
"We just need to continue to work on that consistency and make sure night in and night out it's wave after wave," Pronger said. "We want to pound teams and get on the forecheck and skate."
Ilya Bryzgalov has been in net for each victory while sporting a 1.67 goals-against average, though he's 0-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA in his last three starts versus the Kings.
On the other end, the Flyers will have to contend with Jonathan Quick
, who is 1-0-1 with a 1.40 GAA after Wednesday's 2-1 shootout loss to New Jersey.
Quick made 36 saves for Los Angeles, which will be playing its second road game in North America after beginning with back-to-back contests in Europe.
The Kings will play their first true home game Tuesday against St. Louis.
"It's been here, there, everywhere with planes, trains and automobiles," Richards said. "It's been good, though, to get away with the guys and be welcomed into their tight-knit group."
Former Flyer Simon Gagne
, who scored his first goal in a Kings uniform Wednesday, will return to Philadelphia for the second time after going scoreless in his first trip back Oct. 14, 2010, while playing for Tampa Bay. Gagne played 10 seasons with the Flyers from 1999-2010.
Philadelphia is 9-1-1 in the last 11 home meetings against Los Angeles, though Quick made 40 saves in a 1-0 win there Feb. 13.