IS RICK NASH REALLY MR. INVISIBLE?

Rick Nash doing what he does best.

Rick Nash doing what he does best.

WHY ISN’T NASH SCORING?
Last year, when Glen Sather pulled the trigger to acquire stud winger Rick Nash, “Rangerstown” erupted in joy. It was a player everyone knew the Rangers were targeting and hey whenever you can add a top 5 forward to your team, it’s considered a win. NY parted ways with fan favorites, Brandon Dubinsky & Artem Anisimov, along with prospect Tim Erixon and a draft pick. It was an exceptionally great move because they didn’t give up the “future” in players like Chris Kreider (who we’ve seen emerge this season) & JT Miller (who is starting to play really well).

Getting Nash in a Rangers sweater was big because of the struggles the team had scoring. Originally you had figured we’d see Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards on the same line. It didn’t exactly work out but the Rangers got production out of him in the shortened season. He scored 42 points in 44 games with a career high +16. Injuries plagued him throughout the playoffs that year, where he only managed 5 points in 12 games . His first Rangers playoff goal didn’t come until game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals against Boston.

Fast forward to today. Rick Nash scored his first goal in his last 8 games against Tampa last night! That’s 7 games without a goal, not even a point. This has certainly been a difficult season after sustaining another concussion. It forced him to miss a handful of games and his recent play feels like a whole lot more.

Of course NY Ranger fans went into it’s typical full fledged panic mode. Many crying out “Where has Rick Nash been?” We at FTR certainly speculated that it could be possible that he is simply afraid to take a hit. In fairness, who wouldn’t be. However, just a little research reveals a different story.

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
We all know the talents Rick Nash has when he’s a healthy player. He may very well be one of the league’s best “Power Forwards”, but since coming back from his concussion injury he’s been far from that. Sometimes you don’t even notice him on the ice. Now, we can look at his numbers this year and say “they aren’t that bad” (6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, -4, in 22 games). But this is a guy who is a 2 time 40 goal scorer & 5 time 30 goal scorer and had last year been a full year, he had a good chance of hitting 40+ again.

Let’s start the investigation there (last year). Everyone fell in love with big Rick but he did go 5 games without a goal and still ended up with 21! Ok you say, but this is different. Well in 2011-12 he went 7 games without a goal not once, but twice! One of those stretches he didn’t register a single point, yet finished with 30 goals. Scratching your head yet? Still think this is different? In 2009-10 he went 11 games without a goal. Yes, 11 GAMES! He finished that season with 33 goals. The year he scored 40 goals in 2008-09 he went 9 games without a tally!

So do we jump to the conclusion that something is still wrong due to his prior injuries? Or is it that we assume he’s just playing scared? Maybe the bright lights of Broadway got the best of him? Why has Rick Nash, not been Rick Nash? Or maybe just like many of the best goal scorers in the NHL, he gets streaky and goals simply come in bunches? FTR believes in the latter.

WHAT TO EXPECT NOW
Last night’s goal may just be the re-opening of the floodgates. Don’t believe me? In 2008-09 he scored in 5 straight and had 7 goals in 8 games after the goalless streak. In 2009-10 he notched 5 in 6 games and in 2011-12 he netted 3 goals in 4 games, all after long stretches without a marker. Basically, it’s time to breathe and calm down.

FTR agrees, if the Rangers have any plans of going on a run here and getting themselves into the playoffs, they need Nash to be a STAR. He needs to take over games, and find the back of the net often. The Rangers winning formula is simple: Nash needs to score and Hank needs to keep them out!

History always teaches us valuable lessons. Maybe after you read this, you will learn something too. That is to stop overreacting every time Rick Nash goes a game without a goal. No one has ever scored in every single NHL game in a season (Gretzky, Lemieux and Hull all came close). So relax and enjoy history repeat itself.  This could be the beginning of a nice little scoring run by 61!

By: Patrick Serao and Anthony Scultore

 

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