Brad Richards has dealt with what he considers a frustratingly subpar performance so far this season with, at varying times, anger, self-deprecating humor and just outright bewilderment.

The veteran center, in the second season of a nine-year, $60 million deal, knows the only way to shake his roller coast of emotions is increased and consistent offensive production.

And as the Rangers have pointed themselves in the right direction with a 3-0-1 spurt heading into tonight’s game against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, so has Richards with a goal and four assists in that span, mainly on a line with newly acquired rugged wing Ryane Clowe and newly re-signed playmaker Mats Zuccarello.

"I felt some things coming lately and getting rewarded, obviously, is a key to it," said Richards, who is once again starting to make pinpoint passes. "Helping the team getting on the board instead of just getting chances or being involved in chances. Eventually, that just gets old."

Richards, 32, had three goals and two assists in the 12 games preceding last week’s spurt – with wins over the Jets, Penguins and Hurricanes and a 2-1 shootout loss at Pittsburgh that felt like a victory.

This week is equally crucial to the seventh-place Rangers’ playoff chances as they’ll face the fifth-place Maple Leafs twice – including Wednesday at Madison Square Garden – and also the Islanders, who are tied with them in points with 42, but have played one extra game.

The Rangers did not practice Sunday after playing back-to-back games.

"You have a bad night or two and all of a sudden, five other teams crawl right back in it," said Richards, who is on pace for career lows with six goals and 17 assists, though the lockout-shortened season makes that dubious statistic somewhat moot.