Eric Staal and Rick Nash are ready to rock if Vigneault keeps it that way
Rick Nash and Eric Staal are hopefully set to make sweet music in Detroit today. Since the day the Rangers acquired Eric Staal, I have been screaming from the mountain tops that he should be on a line with Nash.
I have likened Staal’s first 5 games paired with Viktor Stalberg and Oscar Lindberg like watching a Corvette doing 30MPH in the left lane on the highway (among other things). This isn’t a knock on the two serviceable wingers, but they are not on the same skill level as former 100 point center, E. Staal.
Playing Eric Staal with Lindberg and Stalberg is like hooking up a VCR and an Atari 2600 game system to a 60″ HD LASER TV.
— FullTilt Rangers (@NYR_FullTilt) March 9, 2016
When #61 returned to full practice yesterday I fretted as to what Alain Vigneault might do with the lineup. Then he said it! “It’s something that I’d like to see,” Vigneault spoke to joining his two stars on one line. The intent is to make it more difficult to check the Rangers, especially if these two offensive stars click. This would free up the dynamic duo of Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello from other team’s top checkers.
A third line centered by Derek Stepan, who is the Rangers most lethal two-way forward would give AV a deep and dynamic look. This is to me the best lineup setup AV can put out there on a nightly basis.
As for Staal and Nash, well these two appear to be chomping a the bit.
[su_quote cite=”NY POST” url=”https://nypost.com/2016/03/11/rick-nash-eric-staal-combo-has-been-brewing-for-a-long-time/”]“I find me and Eric to be pretty similar players, and I remember playing with him way back in the day,” Nash said. “Anytime you get someone of his caliber, all the things that he’s achieved in his career, it’s definitely exciting to get a player like that. But I think we have to be one of the deepest teams at center. There were some great centermen here already.”[/su_quote]
These two have played together before starting as teenagers for Team Canada and later on All-Star teams. Eric Staal is really looking forward to what they can rekindle together.
[su_quote cite=”Newsday” url=”https://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/rangers/henrik-lundqvist-rick-nash-marc-staal-set-to-return-for-rangers-1.11564800″]“I’ve played against big, strong guys and they’re hard to play against,” Staal said. “So we’ve got to be like that, hard to play against every shift, hang on to the puck in the offensive zone and hopefully cash in when the opportunity arises.”[/su_quote]
Now the fear for me is simple – will AV at the first sign of trouble immediately revert to his old combinations and break up what should be a top notch first line featuring Eric Staal and Rick Nash? I hope not, but you can easily see AV putting Nash back with Stepan at the first sign of adversity.
For now, I will revel in the fact that the Rangers best possible 1-2 punch are together. I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the friendship Nash and Staal have from the 2011 All-Star Draft.