Rick Nash looks ready for Dallas, but will his scoring return with him?
Last Year’s Offensive Drop Off
The Rangers big gun suffered the worst offensive season of his career when he finished with just 15 goals and 36 points in 60 games. It was bad, but it wasn’t that awful until he suffered a leg injury on January 22nd that cost him 20 games.
Before that injury, Nash had 12 goals and 33 points in 45 games. He was scoring .75 points per game and .26 goals per as well. Had he played 82 games at that pace, his final numbers would have been about 62 points with around 22 goals. Not great, but not that terrible.
Unfortunately, when he finally returned to the lineup he scored only 3 goals and no assists in his last 15 games. A major drop off to just .20 points per game. So is there a repeat coming?
Where Nash’s Offense Comes From
Before this groin injury, Nash was producing around .66 points per game with a wonderful .40 goals per game average. Big #61 was heading for a 30-35 goal season and around 55 points, where will he end up now?
I think it’s important to understand where Nash’s offense comes from a physical standpoint. That would be his legs. Nash uses his speed for almost everything. His signature move is to blow past the defender along the boards and explode through the middle for a beautiful goal. He also switches gears and catches defenders flat footed out of the corners.
Why bring this up? Because last year’s injury was to his legs (bone bruise) as is this year’s (groin). Will Nash be timid like he was coming off last year’s injury? This is a serious concern, considering the fact that Nash is now 32 and the body doesn’t heal or respond the same afterwards.
Bottom line, for Nash to be successful he needs his legs at full speed.
What Should We Expect?
A slow start should be a given, even if he scores a goal tomorrow. He hasn’t played in over a week and will need to get back into game shape. His timing and reads may be a bit behind but these should all come to him quickly.
What you should be watching for is if he looks timid. Does he push off harder on his skates and stretch that groin muscle to find that explosive speed off the boards? Does he change speeds often to catch a defender flat footed? These are all legit questions and concerns, and they will begin to be answered as soon as his first shift tomorrow.
If Nash is shy about pushing his legs, we could be in for a long drought for the Rangers most offensive weapon.