Rangers Spotlight: Rick Nash

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/AP

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/AP

Ever since Rick Nash entered the National Hockey League way back in 2002 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, his evolution as a player has been a great thing to witness. It’s safe to say he has turned into one of the most dangerous players in the league today and can strike whenever he sees fit. His 210 lbs. frame allows him to shield the puck with ease, and once he gets the puck, it is very difficult to get it away from him.

That’s how he has made his living and scored his goals in the pros, he uses his body to force his way into the inside and either rifles it home or makes a tremendous move to skillfully beat the goaltender.

In July of 2012, New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather worked his magic to acquire the behemoth from north of the border. Sather dealt Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick for Nash. At the time, fans were ecstatic about the deal, claiming it would bring the Rangers the greatest success which they haven’t had since 1994. It took two seasons, but Nash’s play (in the regular season) led them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.

That’s the key right there, “in the regular season.” Before joining the Rangers, Nash had only made one playoff appearance, which was in a first-round series where his team was swept by the Detroit Red Wings, and Nash only scored one goal in those four games to contribute to his teams effort.

Now, fast forward to 2013, where the Rangers made the playoffs and faced the Washington Capitals in the first round. They beat the Caps in seven games, but Nash scored no goals. In the second round, they faced the deadly Boston Bruins, and were quickly brushed away in five games, Nash scored only one goal, which would be his only one of the playoffs that season.

This past season, the best one since ’94 for the Rangers, featured one of the greatest playoff runs fans have ever witnessed. They defeated the rival Philadelphia Flyers in seven, came back from a 3-1 series deficit to take down the Pittsburgh Penguins, and beat the Montreal Canadiens in six games to be crowned Eastern Conference champions. They would face their downfall in the Final, where they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.

All the while, Nash only tallied three goals in those four series’. It’s safe to say that when it comes to Rick, when the games get big, he gets small. He just can’t seem to find that clutch gene and come up huge for his team when it matters most. The Final was the biggest series for the Rangers organization in 20 years, and the highest-paid player on the team did not even score one goal, not one.

Now, to lighten the mood a little bit, the Rangers made it all the way to the final series with Nash only scoring three goals. But the reason for that is because they had the depth to get scoring from third and fourth line guys like Benoit Pouliot, Dominic Moore, and even Brian Boyle. The question that now arises is will the Rangers have that same depth in 2015 to make another Cup run?

If the Rangers ever want to win another championship and give these fans what they deserve and what they have waited for, Nash is going to have to find a way to come up big in clutch situations. If he doesn’t, the entire city of New York might just be calling for his head.