Is Now The Time to Get on Rick Nash?

Rick Nash  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Nash (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Through three playoff runs with the Rangers, Rick Nash has struggled to produce on offense for the club. When he was acquired before the 2012-2013 season, he was expected to be the Rangers “difference maker” up front when the post-season rolled around, but to this point he hasn’t been able to produce as expected. Is now the time for even patient Ranger fans to take issue with the wingers struggles?

So far through 14 playoff games, Nash has mustered only 2 goals and 5 assists. He’s been doing the little things, but the Rangers sorely need their biggest weapon to start finding the net more.

AV ((Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images))

AV ((Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images))

Alain Vigneault discussed Nash’s struggles on Tuesday, when asked for an assessment of Nash’s game the coach responded,

I mean, again, he’s working extremely hard. He’s getting physically involved. He’s getting some looks. Would I like him to finish on some of those looks? Yes. Do we need him to finish on those looks? Probably, yes. He knows that.
But this is a team game. It’s a team concept. We need everyone to be better, from our goaltender out. 

There has been lots of talk about Nash’s slump and during the Game 2 coverage on NBCSN Keith Jones talked about Rick Nash, “He is getting smaller as the playoffs are moving along. We watched it last year, we heard about the concussion that he had when he was lighting it up in the regular season. This is a long period of time for a star to shrink and that is what Rick Nash is doing. ”

Frustration from the fan base has been mounting for a while now, but has yet to reach the level it did last season.

I remember last year when the Rangers were in the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the fans at Madison Square Garden started to boo Rick Nash when he had a bad game. Alain Vigneault expressed his feelings on his players being booed,  “Ultimately the fans can do what they want. I’d prefer right now if the fans are supportive. It might not look it, but we’re trying our guts off right here.”

Rick Nash celebrates a shorthanded goal (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Rick Nash celebrates a shorthanded goal (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

My Take

In the grand scheme of things, Vigneault is right, booing any home player doesn’t bode well. Frankly I don’t understand the anger directed at the winger. Nash isn’t scoring, and it isn’t news, but it’s not for a lack of effort.

Nash currently leads the Rangers by a hefty margin in shots on goal with 50. Next closest is Derek Stepan with 39. Nash has also been a factor on the Rangers penalty kill averaging 1:20 per game.

The big winger also finishes his checks and with authority, he currently has 32 hits in just 14 games played, in the regular season he threw 45 hits in 79 games. So when people say “he’s not trying” it irritates me.

I know he makes a lot of money and I know he was brought in to score, but you can’t forget that the Rangers are playing excellent hockey teams who are devising ways to stop Nash. Much different from the regular season where teams mainly focus on themselves. He isn’t the first start player to get shut down and he won’t be the last.

If the fans want to give Nash a boost they should try getting behind him with a swell of support for the next home game. That might actually be helpful.