Rangers powerplay promises to improve with Nash

July 25, 2012, by

Only five players have scored more goals than Rick Nash since 2003-2004. His 272 goals is indeed an impressive total. To date, Nash has scored 83 powerplay goals in his NHL career, a number that would surely have been larger had he had a better supporting cast during his time in Columbus.

While Nash only scored six powerplay goals in each of the last two seasons that number should grow when considering the presence of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and players such as Ryan Callahan and Mike Del Zotto on the power play.

Nash is a legitimate threat who is not afraid to shoot the puck, something that the Rangers powerplay hasn’t nearly done enough. With over 300 shots per season over the last two years Nash comes to a Rangers team with players to feed him the puck unlike in Columbus. The premise is that with more opportunity should come more production.

Perhaps the biggest Achilles heel of the Rangers last year was their ineffective powerplay. The presence of Nash adds elite skill, makes the team bigger, more trigger happy but also from a personnel point of view, deeper on the powerplay. The big winger will bump several players down onto a second unit, and will round out a first powerplay unit that should be explosive.

The Canadian Olympian should mean more space for Gaborik – another clinical shooter – his presence will take attention away from Brad Richards and this should allow Richards better opportunity to distribute the puck helping forge a lethal one-two from the wing in Nash-Gaborik.

So just how will the first unit look next season? There’s a distinct chance that the Rangers roll four forwards on the first powerplay unit. With Brad Richards expected to run the powerplay, Michael Del Zotto the most offensive defenseman at the club and with Nash, Gaborik and Ryan Callahan all effective, key components of their respective powerplay units in seasons past the Rangers should ice a dangerous first unit. At the very least the powerplay should be more effective than last year.

Looking at this collection of players however and it’s clear that while Nash is a huge upgrade for the Rangers the powerplay unit still lacks a gunner from the point. Del Zotto’s shot will never be confused for Zdeno Chara’s or Shea Weber’s. Richards is clearly a puck handler, pass first player and Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan are hardly point options for the powerplay.

It is this reason that while the former Blue Jacket surely improves the powerplay the final make-up of the unit may not be set in stone just yet. Factor in the Rangers need to add to the blueline with Tim Erixon departed in the Nash deal and the Rangers may still look to add a bomb from the point.

The key to powerplay success for the Rangers however remains movement. Whether the Rangers add a big shot or not, it will be crucial that Richards et al move the puck and players rotate more; above all to get Nash and Gaborik in better shooting positions. It’s one thing to possess elite shooters it’s another thing to put them in position to succeed.

While the newly acquired power forward makes the Rangers more dangerous and less predictable perhaps the biggest aspect of all is how the Rangers may make Nash better, potentially more effective. That goes for the power play as well as at even strength. Last season Nash had linemates such as underachieving centers RJ Umberger and/or Derek Brassard; neither of whom has fulfilled their promise at the NHL level.

Then there is Rick Nash’s opposite wing in Columbus. While Cam Atkinson showed late season promise, the most productive right wing last year was Derek Dorsett with twenty (!) points. The point is this; Nash’s supporting cast was at best, politely put, underwhelming. Give Nash legitimate line mates such as Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Marian Gaborik or even Chris Kreider and Nash will have much more chance to thrive.

The Rangers are in a much better position to take advantage of Nash’s talents and physical ability than Columbus ever were.


  1. Kris says:

    I agree the power play will be better with Nash. I think you left out one of key factors Nash brings to the pp, which is the re-entering of the zone. I feel that Torts only allows Richards to skate the puck in the zone on an even man rush, making everyone else dump the puck in. When they dump the puck in, they have to battle for the puck. If they lose it the puck gets cleared. If they win it, a good amount of times the pass is a bad pass leaving the zone on its own or allows the pk to attack the player receiving the pass and the puck is out of the zone. The rest of the time the pass is completed and they set up. Once they set up, they move the puck well and create chances. The problem I saw was they were only set up in the zone for 30 seconds per pp and sometimes not at all. Nash’s stickhandling ability will allow him to skate the puck in the zone and set up, similar to the way Kovalchuk did for NJ. If one pk forward is already behind the play chances are the pk is not goong to pressure Nash, if they do 2 of 4 pk players have over committed which usually leads to a scoring chance. More time set up in the zone, leads to more chances, with better talent leads to more goals.

    • SalMerc says:

      I agree. I would also add that we need to be better at the points, with faster reactions and puck movement. We seem to be the most patient team ever on the power-play. How well did that work? Let’s try to be creative with crisp passes that do not always go around the perimeter. Any good defensive team can defend against the NYR PP cause it is predictable. Maybe Nash can help change things up.

  2. Walt says:

    The main thing that Rick Nash brings to the table is a huge frame, with skill!

    We haven’t had a big body stationed in front of the goal in ages. Nash could position himself there, and he is a moose, which makes life miserable for the d-men trying to kill the penalty. Think back to the days of Phil Esposito, wasn’t the most skilled player, but was an immovable object, and a great garbage collecter. How many goals did he score in his career from in front of the net?

    There still is a need for a cannon shot from the point. Leetch, Zubov, Weber, Chara, or a name from the past, Bobby Rousseau, a former team mate of Sather while a Ranger, that is what we need more than anything else right now. Now if only Slats could work his majic again, and get us that shot, we would be on a gravy train!!!!!

    • Rickyrants13 says:

      We now have three new players that all go to the net We had none last year. Nash, Pyatt and Asham all go to the net

  3. Zen says:

    Having that big-body skilled player on the ice should be a boon for the PP, though I don’t think it will take a HUGE jump unless they can find someone to crank shots from the point. Sather was clearly gunning to get Nash AND Weber in the fold (which would have insane), so now I have little doubt he will continue to search for that PP D-man. Yandle and Boyle have been connected to the Rangers and they have the cap space, but neither would come without giving up a good asset. Given that Phx and SJ are playoff teams with good management, there won’t be any fleecing going on in any trade with them.

    • SalMerc says:

      Yandle is an excellent player and would work well. Good choice!

      • Kevin Baumer says:

        No more big trades coming this offseason. NYR don’t want to trade the chips and can’t take on another salary of that magnitude with the salary cap sure to be reduced.

        • Chris says:

          Kev, I agree that a big trade is unlikely but I think you’re worrying a bit too much regards to the cap.
          Don’t forget, if there is a reduction there’s likely to be salary roll back so the cap reduction impact will be braced.

  4. JimBob says:

    I think everyone is living in a dream with all the reasons why the PP will be so good. BUT, all the reasons noted by everyone have nothing yo do with Rick Nash’s arrival. To point: placing a big body in front; shooting more; rapid puck movement; better positioning….all these items were not done by Rangers last year and Nash fixes none of them IF Tortorella doesn’t demand it. Torts could have demanded those things last year but didn’t. I do agree that the point shot still is lacking and again Nash doesn’t fix that.

    • SalMerc says:

      It may be more about personnel than Torts demands. Maybe he needs to bring in a power-play coach. Hey Messier, you busy?

      • The Suit says:

        The idea that Torts doesn’t coach an umbrella power play the same way everyone else does is pretty comical. He’s a coach, of course he wants these guys doing all that we are demanding like shooting more, player movement, etc.

        The personnel he had at his disposal just couldn’t get it done. Their PP will be better with Nash on it. Keep the faith.

      • Lord Stanley says:

        How about the PP king himself Brian Leetch

  5. Walt says:

    On another note, go to The Prospect Park web site, and read about the 5 players who Jessie thinks have a shot at making their own breaks. Miller is mentioned, and read what he has to say. This is the reason I’ve been high on this kid, as mentioned in other posts this week by me!

  6. Rangers407 says:

    And the 2nd power play unit could be good with Hagelin, Step, Kreider, McD and Staal.