Mike Richards finding game at right time

Kings center Mike Richards (center) has come on strong in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- Talk to Mike Richards’ teammates with the Los Angeles Kings, and inevitably the conversation moves to the conclusion that he’s a winner. He has won at every level.

He’s got a Memorial Cup, a Calder Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup ring. When it comes to winning things, Richards is pretty much set.

But trying to explain what he specifically does that’s different from other players in the league, well, that’s where it gets a little more challenging. What makes Richards a winner?

This question was posed to Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin.

“Well, he’s won at every level,” Muzzin said. “When guys have been through experiences like that, they know what it takes to do it again. Won in junior. Won in minors. Won here. He knows what it takes.”

It’s a phrase that’s often heard this time of year: Some teams and some players know what it takes to win a playoff series. The Kings certainly do. The Blackhawks definitely do. The Rangers have learned.

The Sharks? The Blues? The Ducks? They’re still learning.

During the regular season, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock articulated it so well, like he does so many things in hockey.

“The defending champion is the defending champion for a reason. They are the only ones with the knowledge of this other level,” Hitchcock said during a midseason conversation. “There’s another bridge out there you’re going to have to cross.”

His team didn’t find it. However, a champion of Richards’ pedigree knows exactly where the bridge is and how to cross it.

And when to cross it.