This has to feel eerily similar for Brad Richards, the Rangers veteran center who is again going through a difficult stretch of play at the most important time of the year.

Richards was demoted to the fourth line for the Rangers’ 2-1 win over the Kings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night at the Garden. He played just 13:20, getting one shift in the final 11:20 of the game, none in the final 7:34.

“This morning I met all the lines individually, talked about certain assignments that I wanted,” coach Alain Vigneault said, his team now down in the best-of-seven series 3-1, with Game 5 in Los Angeles on Friday. “I talked to Brad’s line. I talked to Brad about the decision I made.

“I mean, at this time of the year it’s only about one thing: It’s about the team. You guys know how Richards has been this year, the ultimate pro. He’s fine with whatever I do.”

Richards joined a line with Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett, a grinding line for a player who has the history as an offensive player and one-time Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner in 2004. Yet last year he suffered the indignity of being made a healthy scratch by then-coach John Tortorella for the final two games of the team’s five-game, second-round series loss to the Bruins.