Expectancy for Rick Nash greater than ever

Rick Nash is facing a huge amount of pressure. Starting Thursday

Rick Nash is facing a huge amount of pressure. Starting Thursday

As the Rangers prepare to open their season on Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes, they will do so missing two of their presumptive top six forwards and with their de facto top line center behind the eight ball thanks to Derek Stepan’s (partial) holdout. Throw in the continued struggles of the likes of Chris Kreider and the less than inspiring preseason of Brad Richards, and the pressure on Rick Nash to lead an offense has never been greater.

Despite being part of a far more talented collective in New York, Nash wouldn’t even have faced this level of expectancy in Columbus, where he was the lone elite talent. In New York this season, the Rangers’ burly power forward is expected to lead a contender’s offense for the first time, and do so in a legitimate big sports market (sorry Ohio).

At the start of last year it was assumed Brad Richards was still a top line center. The excitement of Chris Kreider’s arrival was still very real, and the Rangers of course still had a guy called Marian Gaborik. Fast forward a year and the Rangers begin the season without Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, Richards is a shadow of his former self, and Kreider is in the AHL.

Nash obviously has the overall game to thrive, even without a huge amount of help to start the season, but we saw last season how quickly negativity can surface when a star player such as Nash has a sustained period of unproductive play. Nash was lucky in that his underwhelming post season was slightly masked by the surprise playoff performance of Derick Brassard. No one anticipated Brassard as a clutch playoff performer before he strung multiple quality performances together for the Rangers.

Despite a solid first year on Broadway, Nash will be expected to do more in his first full season in New York. Fair or not, anything less than a 35-goal season will likely be considered mediocre return from a $7.8 million star player in New York. Being completely healthy to start the season, the presence of a more offensively minded head coach, and the assumed offensive zone focus that coincides with Alain Vigneault’s arrival – not to mention the assumed improvement of a powerplay that surely cannot get worse -  and really, Nash has no excuses not to have a good season.

As he’ll have expected when he arrived in New York, expectations will be monumental for Rick Nash this year. The Rangers’ hopes of a successful season rest squarely on two players living up to their talent level this season. We can assume Henrik Lundqvist will hold up his end of the bargain – he’s done it in one of the league’s most fickle markets for almost a decade – it’s up to Nash, the clubs second most important player, to do his share. The entire league will be watching.

27 Responses to “Expectancy for Rick Nash greater than ever”

  1. Dave says:

    Honestly it wouldn’t shock me to see a 35 goal, 70 point year from Nash, and still have people peeved that he didn’t produce.

    • TxRanger says:

      Honestly, he’s being paid to do more than that, though. 35 goals is great as long as we win, but if we’re fighting for one of the last few seeds like last year, than it is a disappointment for sure.

      • Dave says:

        He’s being paid to be a top line player. 35-35-70 is top line production.

        • Spozo says:

          C’mon Dave. People still bash Gaborik even after two 40 goal seasons in blue. People are gonna rag on this guy regardless.

        • VinceR says:

          Especially for a guy who hasn’t scored over 35 since 2008-9.

          • Dave says:

            40 goal pace last year.

            • VinceR says:

              Right, I just mean to call 35 a disappointment would be a bit of a stretch since he doesn’t often go above that. Hopefully with this team around him he can get back up to 40 though.

    • Centerman21 says:

      After that playoff that Nash had last year, he won’t get the critics off his back until he does it in the playoffs. It won’t matter if he scores 80 points. Have to do your part when it counts. The thing is that the best in the game get shutdown in the playoffs. Crosby & Malkin were blanked by Boston and so were Toews & Kane for the most part. To me, the guys around Nash have to score to allow Nash time and space.

  2. Mikeyyy says:

    Here’s hoping br rn and ds catch fire together. We really need it.

    • Dave says:

      Nash and Stepan should be fine together. The problem with Nash/Richards is that they both like to carry the puck to gain the zone. Stepan is content to dish to Nash.

  3. ranger17 says:

    top line has nobody to get the puck if we dump and chase . Hags has to be with Step and Nash 2ed line ok 3rd line ,i guess you have to play BR there by default put Fast and Miller with him until Cally gets back 4th Boyle Moore Dorsett Maybe

    Miller Step Nash
    Poul Brass Zucc
    Boyle Moore Dorsett
    Pyatt BR Fast
    would also like to see J Moore on the PP

    • RangerSmurf says:

      If Richards-Stepan-Nash are playing (consistent) dump-n-chase hockey, we’re fucked from the beginning. It’s vastly inferior to carry-ins as an overall strategy.

      • Dave says:

        D&C might work with the Hagelin/Cally combo, or the Brass/Zuc/Pouliot line. That’s it.

  4. Walt says:

    With the supporting cast that Nash has with him, he should score at least 35-40 goals, and 75 points.

    If everyone carries their share of the load, Nash won’t be targeted as the only player to shut down, and that ought to help his game. Lets face it folks, we were a two line team last year, and this season we will have additional scoreing from the 3rd line.

    When all is said and done, assuming no major injuries to Nash, he should have a decent season!!

    • Dave says:

      That’s an area that people are forgetting: Assuming the depth produces, teams can’t just focus on Nash.

    • HARLEMBLUES says:

      2ND line has to produce to take some heat off of Nash.Nash just has to be Nash.

  5. KennyJ says:

    Just want to thank you guys (Dave, Chris, The Suit, Justin, Kevin) for your cogent insights on my favorite team in my favorite sport. I particularly love the back and forth in the comments. So many committed and knowledgable Ranger fans! Only thing I don’t appreciate is when it gets nasty and personal. No reason for that. This is just a diversion albeit a very special one. It’s supposed to be fun.
    Anyway keep up the good work and keep it coming. I come to this site twice a day at least and truth be known, I spend very little other time on-line!

  6. Ray says:

    In the preseason, we had lines of Nash-Richards-Kreider and Brassard-Poulliot-Zuccarello. Eveyone was impressed at how good Brass and Poulliot were and how bad Richards and Kreider were. Just maybe Nash and Zuc had something to do with it. O

    • Ray says:

      Sorry, accidentally sent unfinished reply. Nash generally makes his teammates look worse. He doesn’t use his teammates. Personally, I’d pair him with guys who could thrive scavenging in his wake. Boyle, Pyatt, Callahan, maybe Hagelin.

      I really supported the Nash trade when it was made. But I don’t think it was a coincidence that it transformed the Rangers from a near Cup team to a barely playoff team.

      • Dave says:

        You’re basing this off a line that had a guy (Kreider) who is in the AHL at the moment.

        I agree that Nash/Richards don’t really belong together, they don’t compliment each other that well. I’d like to see Stepan with Nash and Richards with Cally.

        • Ray says:

          But Kreider is in the AHL because he looked bad playing with Nash. That may very well be a coincidence and I’m sure that is what most people here think.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          That might happen when Cally is back. Right now, I think that last spot on the top line is a little tenuous with Hagelin out (he fits that line to a T); it may be a rotating spot for the first couple of weeks.

          I agree, Richards on a line with Callahan and possibly Miller (depending on how he plays early on) could be a fit.

          It’s too bad Kreider couldn’t show enough to make the team, I feel his skill set would be a nice complement to a Richards/Callahan line. Maybe later this season if all goes well…

  7. Mikeyyy says:

    I think the team will suprise us all. Especially games 20-60. I’m prepared for a losing streak. We must lose to become better. Stick to the system get better at it and it will flow. Just no over reacting from the staff on the system and we will be good.

    Av likes to do all the things we didnt do in the old system. He runs a 1-2-2. Not a 2-3 . His dman pinch and get involved, not dump and make stupid shots all the time. He practices the power play and pk. Didn’t happen before.

    Give it time. There is too much talent there for us to do poorly.

  8. Bloomer says:

    I had an opportunity to watch Nash play last week when he was here in Vancouver. It was not a pretty site. He looked slow, his play was sloppy and looks like he beefed out over the summer. I have always been a huge fan of Rick Nash and really would like to see him have a banner year. At this juncture, it doesn’t appear that will happen, I hope he proves me wrong.