New Look Nash
When the Rangers traded Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash back in the summer of 2012, they anticipated receiving the left wing that averaged over 30 goals a season. In his first two seasons with the Blueshirts, however, Nash only scored 21 goals in the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign and 26 last season where he only played 65 games due to a concussion. But this season, the Rangers might finally be getting the Nash they have been expecting.
In only seven games this season, Nash already has eight goals, which leads the NHL. His most recent tally came last night with the Rangers trailing 3-2 in the third period versus the New Jersey Devils. New York winger Lee Stempniak fired a shot on net which was saved by Devils’ net minder Cory Schneider, but Nash was able to corral the rebound and backhand it past Schneider in front of the net to tie the game for the Rangers. Defenseman Kevin Klein scored in overtime to give the Rangers the victory, but they wouldn’t have been able to make it there without Nash’s third period goal.
The Rangers haven’t seen this play out of Nash since they signed him. He is playing with a great deal of confidence, not afraid to crash the net, take chances and just shoot when he has the opportunity. Last season, Nash was much more indecisive and situations where he has shot the puck this season and scored goals, last season he most likely would’ve tried to peel away or pass the puck off. This has been particularly evident in the playoffs, where Nash only has four goals in 37 games with the club.
Whether it was the birth of his son, McLaren, or something he did in the offseason, whatever has inspired Nash to return to the type of play he exhibited in Columbus is certainly a breath of fresh air to the Rangers and their fans. During a time where center Derek Stepan is out with a broken leg and defenseman Dan Boyle is out with a broken hand, everyone on the Rangers needs to step up. They got off to a rough start losing three of their first four games, but one constant was Nash scoring at least once a game. Since then, the Rangers have won three straight to get to 4-3-0 on the season and Nash has continued to produce offensively.
A team that always has a problem scoring, if Nash can continue to be relied on for the rest of the season for his offense the Rangers will be in a much better position than they were in previous years. Obviously Nash will eventually break his goal per game average, but if he can score 30, even 40, goals this season I’m sure the Rangers will be happy with that. The big question, of course, is whether or not he will be able to reach 30 plus goal, or whether he will hit a snide and drop off.
Nothing in Nash’s current play indicates he will be slumping any time soon, which is great news for both him and the Rangers. Nash is one of the most reliable wingers in the league thus far this season, and that’s exactly what the Rangers were hoping he’d be all along.