BRANDON — There's nothing like the Stanley Cup playoffs to make Brad Richards feel young again.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion — including the Lightning's lone title in 2004, when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP — is in the postseason for the 10th time during a 16-year career. He has also been with the Stars, Rangers, Blackhawks and his current team, the Red Wings, who squeezed into the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season.
Richards couldn't be happier about facing his former team in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series that begins tonight.
"This last month all thoughts were on whether we were going to make it or not," Richards said after practice Tuesday, when he also reminisced about early playoff experiences, including the Lightning's surprising championship run 12 years ago.
He won another Stanley Cup a year ago with Chicago, which defeated Tampa Bay in six games.
"It's amazing once you get in," said Richards, who has 36 goals and 68 assists in 141 playoff games.
"Last night was tough sleeping. You start thinking about the crowd, the attention. This is why you play. This is why you go through that grind of 82 games and train all summer to get yourself ready because there's nothing like this time of year," said Richards, who turns 36 on May 2.
"And the way the NHL is now, you just don't know what can happen when you get on a run and get confidence."
Senators ax Cameron: Pierre Dorion has made his first major move as Senators general manager, firing coach Dave Cameron. It's the second major change in Ottawa after the Senators finished a disappointing 38-35-9 season and missed the playoffs. Dorion is wasting no time shaking up his coaching staff, with the changes coming just two days after he took over the GM role from Bryan Murray.
Jones starts for Sharks: Martin Jones spent a Stanley Cup run as Jonathan Quick's backup in Los Angeles learning what it takes to thrive as a starting goaltender in the playoffs. Jones now gets his own chance to start in the postseason going up against Quick and his former Kings teammates when San Jose face its rival in the first round starting Thursday night. Jones said he is taking the same calm approach to the series that he does with just about everything else he does. "I think that's probably who I am a little bit," he said. "I think I'm a pretty calm guy. It's important." Jones had a heavy workload this season, starting 54 of San Jose's first 63 games. But after the trade deadline acquisition of James Reimer from Toronto, Jones has gotten more time off. Reimer started eight of the final 19 games, posting three shutouts in that span.