Rick Nash’s Complications Drag On
In the summer of 2012, the New York Rangers acquired Rick Nash in a five-player deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. At the time, Glen Sather thought it was a good trade and it would benefit his hockey club, and although it has in some regard, Nash has continued to struggle in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In only his third playoff appearance, Nash has just a measly two career playoff goals, one coming in 2009 with the Blue Jackets in a first round sweep, and the other coming last year against the Boston Bruins in the second round, in which the Rangers lost the series in five games.
Now, those stats aren’t quite parallel to his regular season numbers, which are actually pretty good. With the Blue Jackets, starting from the 2007-08 season, he had five straight 30 goal campaigns, while scoring 40 in one of those.
So, it’s not like the guy can’t score, he does it really well. He’s a big guy who shields the puck well and is very hard to defend against.
But, there is one recurring problem that spells doom for the Rangers. When the games get bigger, he gets smaller, and by that I mean he doesn’t have that clutch gene that every hockey organization looks for in a player with the skill set of Nash.
During the playoffs, Nash should be the Rangers’ main guy, the person that they look to for goals. But so far in the 2014 postseason, he is goalless as New York heads into their Eastern Conference Final appearance against the Montreal Canadiens.
Sometimes, goalless players get overshadowed by the depth of the team. The Rangers have depth, and it’s a good thing they have plenty of it, because that is the only thing that is keeping Nash from getting crucified right now. Brad Richards is currently carrying the slack with a team-leading nine points, followed by Martin St. Louis, Benoit Pouliot, and Mats Zuccarello, each with eight points.
Imagine if the Rangers were knocked out in the first round by the Philadelphia Flyers, which could have easily happened if not for the heroics of Henrik Lundqvist. The pressure would immediately be placed on Nash’s shoulders, because he’s the star on this squad.
The good thing however is that Nash has been getting his chances, but they aren’t GREAT chances. From what I’ve seen, most of his shots have been from the outside, and the opposing goaltender has seen almost every one of them. With that said, those type of chances are not going to bode well against a guy like Carey Price, who was lights out in the Olympics and single-handedly shutdown the Boston Bruins in the second round this year.
If I were Nash, I would be taking that puck to the net every opportunity I got. The guy’s 6-foot-4, he needs to be using that size to his advantage. Take the body once in a while, and force your way toward the net in any way possible. You have to make the netminder feel uncomfortable in his crease, and the only way that is going to happen is if you get in his grill every time there is an opening.
The Rangers can survive one more round without the help of Nash, but if they get to the Stanley Cup Final, the odds of them succeeding against a top-flight team like the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, or Los Angeles Kings is pretty slim without his goal-scoring.
Nash’s pager has been ringing for a while now, and it’s time for him to answer the call.