Rick Nash needs to make a statement

Will the real Rick Nash please stand up. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Will the real Rick Nash please stand up. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

When the Rangers traded for Rick Nash, it was with the intention of finding their offensive saviour. It hasn’t happened. The Rangers still struggle to score goals consistently, and while Nash has flashed his obvious and undoubted brilliance, he hasn’t (yet) been the player the Rangers were looking for. Nash’s first regular season as a Ranger was a solid one (42 points in 44 games), but the season ended in underwhelming style as the team (and Nash) left the playoff party without much fight.

This year Nash obviously suffered the concussion, but has also been caught in the same quicksand that the entire Rangers offense has found itself in. With 12 points in 17 games and just 6 goals, Nash needs to produce more. A lack of reliable line mates or an injury simply can’t count as excuses any longer. When a player is drawing a $7.8 million annual salary he needs to be doing more. No one will criticise Nash for missing time through an unfortunate injury, but when he’s healthy the most talented Rangers forward has to deliver more consistently and in fact more in almost every way.

The next few months could be a critical period for Nash as a Ranger. Does he step up and lead the offense as the star player he’s known as, or does he start to become considered as an expensive luxury? Bear in mind, Marian Gaborik was almost chased out of town by certain groups of fans and media because he tended to disappear and struggled to play to his elite talent on a consistent basis. He still had a pair of 40-goal seasons as a Ranger.

Nash could use Wednesday night’s visit of the Pittsburgh Penguins as a statement of intent. The Penguins come to town having won nine of ten, but with some injury concerns. They come as clear division leaders, and in all honesty, are the only truly elite team in the division. It’s exactly the kind of divisional game the Rangers acquired Nash for.  On course for just 23 goals for the season and with just 2 points in his last 5 games, Nash hasn’t been in great form. Time to find that form.

Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang and Jussi Jokinen are just three of seven (!) Penguins that have either the same amount or more goals scored than Nash. The big Rangers power forward needs to take over a game against a conference heavyweight and show that he can dominate games against the better teams of the league. He’s no longer in small market Columbus where inconsistency will be tolerated.

Nash is a brilliant player and has been a fine addition for the Rangers especially given the relative modest cost needed to acquire the power forward, but eventually he’ll need to score more goals and lead the Rangers to greater heights. It’s how the best are measured. A truly elite player is a difference maker and Nash hasn’t been that game changing force he can be, often enough. What better time to get back on track than against the rival Penguins on Wednesday.

"Rick Nash needs to make a statement", 3 out of 5 based on 5 ratings.

24 Responses to “Rick Nash needs to make a statement”

  1. Pete says:

    In a season of disappointments the play of Nash has to be right up there. The guy has all the ability in the world to take over a game and yet pulls a Gaborik most night.

    It could be just me but he seemed to be much more involved when he first got here. Could it be that he has soured on the whole idea of bright lights, big city?

    • Dave says:

      Pulls a Gaborik? Dude scored a pair of 40 goal seasons. I understand the sentiment of taking games off, but let’s be rational here.

      • Pete says:

        I was referring to his other seasons, not the 40 goal ones, but yeah, maybe that wasn’t the best example I could’ve used. Truth is that I’m very disappointed in the player that is Rick Nash.

  2. Ren says:

    Well said. I don’t expect Nash to produce at a point per game basis because he typically averages slightly below a point per game. However, he needs to be a threat on the ice and a lot of times he simply is not.

    I think he will get it together, but what bothers me the most is that he always seems so apathetic. The team seems apathetic in general. I miss Dubinksy.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Hasn’t that always been fans’ biggest gripe with Nash, that he just doesn’t show that passion very often?

      That can often be misinterpreted, but his uninspired play in the playoffs last year certainly caught some by surprise – myself included.

      Hopefully he gets another chance to prove he’s got what it takes.

      • Dave says:

        People misinterpret uninspired play a lot. Some people just aren’t wired to wear their hearts on their sleeve.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          I agree. Lack of on-ice “passion” can be misinterpreted as apathy, but he left a lot to be desired in the playoffs last year.

          It may not have been from lack of trying, but he hadn’t shown an ability to up his game, either.

  3. Ray says:

    Relatively modest cost??? Giving up being a Cup contender is a modest cost? By any standard, this year Brandon Dubinsky is flat out better than Nash. Anisimov is a good player. First round draft choices are not chopped liver. And Nash’s cap hit has had big implications as well.

    Nash is supremely talented and wonderful to watch. And he may yet be a great player. But so far, no. A great forward is not one who makes you think he’s great, he’s one who makes you think his linemates are great.

    • Dave says:

      Yes. Relatively modest. When they traded Dubi, he was a $4.25 million 10-goal guy. Anisimov was a 4th line center. These were guys that were expendable in the right deal.

      As I’ve said many times, the issue wasn’t just Dubi/AA for Nash. It wasn’t just losing Prust. It was a combination of losing Dubi/AA/Prust/Feds/Mitchell and replacing them with Nash and scrubs.

      • Ray says:

        No, Dubi wasn’t a ten goal guy – he was a player coming off a 10 goal season and 54 goals in three years. He is also a complete player (which Nash isn’t) and it is complete players that win Cups. In his last Ranger season, he was relegated to the third line and the Rangers were a superior team because they had a great third line.

        And Anisimov is a third liner, not a fourth liner.

        But this sidesteps the most important point of all. Dubi and Anisimov were two good players who cost less than one new player (Nash). With Nash replacing Dubi, you need to replace Anisimov with a player making the minimum and you still need to save money. So you have to jettison two decently paid players and replace them with minimum salary guys. So it isn’t Dubi and Anisimov for Nash; it’s Dubi, Anisimov, and two decent players for Nash and three guys making the minimum.

        If you have Kreider, Miller, Lindberg, and Fast all ready to play, this might be a great move since rookies are cheap. But if not, you end up with a crap bottom six. Prust/Feds/Mitchell were replaced by scrubs BECAUSE of the Nash deal, not in addition to it.

        Hockey is more than scoring goals. The Rangers didn’t win the Cup in 1994 by acquiring Mike Gartner; they did it by trading him.

        • Centerman21 says:

          How many Dubinski’s are there in the NHL? How many Anisimov’s are there in the league? There’s a lot of guys like that and for less than 4+ mil per season. Very good supporting cast type player. Nash is a beast. There’s only a few guys in the NHL that can do what he can with the puck. Give him the right linemates and you’ll see him be unstoppable. Put either Dubi or Artie on a line with the Sedin’s and all you will have is the Sedin’s scoring.

          • Walt says:

            Not to bust your chops, but when are we going to see the results???

            I was for the trade, but Nash has been a disapointment thus far with the Rangers.

            I understand he has been hurt, also he hasn’t been with a set line since he got here, so maybe it’s not his fault. Personnally, he should be on a line with Hags, and Step, seemed to have good chemisrty, and put Kreider on another line with Zucc, and spread the potential scoreing around.

            That may be on the coach, and not Nash!!

    • Erixon20 says:

      Do you think Dubi is drawing the same defensive matchups as Nash? Do you think Dubi is the focal point of the other team gameplan? Listen, I loved Dubi…probably my favorite Ranger when traded….but not for 4.25, and certainly not enough to hold up a trade for Rick Nash. But yes, Nash needs to step it up big time.

    • Bloomer says:

      I rather have Dubi and Artie on this team then Nash. I prefer watching a team with some spirit grind out a win, then a team with high end talent float around playing sub .500 hockey. But I guess in New York its all about marketing. It is more important to have brand names on the ice then a team that wants to win a hockey game.

      • Mark says:

        You may be right that the Rangers have been all about marketing (certainly the Devils are not so and we will count the as NY). It is always some marketing angle that the Rangers announcers are touting (the endless comments about the Garden bridge for instance). Having said that though you make the Dubi and Arti for Nash trade any time..then go get yourselves a Marchand and another Callahan to add the spirit. There are teams with high-end talent that do not float around.. Pittsburgh for instance has at least 3 highly paid players..they just get more out of their highly paid players (on the margin) than the Rangers do (except lately at playoff time!). For the difference of about $1MM in salary would you rather have Malkin or Richards? Therein lies a big difference in a cap world.

  4. Walt says:

    Play him with Step, and Hags, and see what happends. He had chemistry with those guys last season, see if that doesn’t spark a flame under his seat.

    I have to agree, we all expected more, much more than what we are getting from this guy. One question, why is it that we get players who had great careers, come here, do nothing, get shipped out, and play well again. It kills me to see that, maybe Pete is on to something, the bright lights may be too much of a distraction for Nash. That seems to be the problem with MDZ, was also the case with Dubi, and he stated so himself!!

    • kurt says:

      Exactly! Sign or trade for the big star and bust. Some sooner some later, but most times its a bust.

  5. Chris F says:

    We need Nash to be that guy that you can look to in a 2-2 game, not the guy who chips in a beauty when you’re up or down 5-1. When he plays relaxed, he can show you what he can do. But when the pressure is up, and the ice seems crowded, Nash cannot break his way through. He needs to do less with the stick, trying to drag pucks through guys legs, and do more with his size. He needs to take a lesson from Jags.

  6. Bloomer says:

    I have always liked Rick Nash as a hockey player but never wanted to see him on the Rangers. Remember the chant at Madison Gardens “we don’t want you” when the Nash trade rumors were in their early beginnings?

    This franchise was on the right path when they were patience and were developing young home grown talent. They won the Eastern division made it to the Eastern Conference finals and had an identity.

    Now they are becoming a team of fat cats. Their 3 highest paid superstars (Nash, Richards and Lundquist)are not bringing it. This team has regressed and it will be a nuclear winter before they ever wear the Eastern Division crown again.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      That 2011-2012 team came up short for a reason. It was a great season, and they had an identity (something this year’s team does not), but they weren’t winning a Stanley Cup that year, nor would they have as constructed.

      You need some skill to win a Stanley Cup..and grit. Balanced teams win Stanley Cups, and for all the grit that team had, they were lacking scoring punch to get past the beasts of the West (LA that year).

      This Rangers team is still looking for that balance, but the trade was defensible, it just hasn’t worked out.

      Every team has high priced stars, but the Rangers’ just aren’t brining it this year. Doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen (with the exception of Richards who isn’t long for this team).

  7. neal says:

    Can we trade Nash, If yes, what could we get?

  8. Paul says:

    Nash has elite level talent, that is for sure. But it seems like most elite players today find the open ice or create their own space to either find the net or make a great passing play. Nash needs to do this more often. He has to show his talent and strength & utilize them to create offensive opportunities, not just rely on other players to hit him with the puck. Further more it’s getting tired (at least to me) to watch him break into the offensive zone and try the same toe-drag/backhand toe drag again and again. Just my opinion, but Nash hasn’t really shown that dynamic element under pressure, at least not in the same way other “elite” players do.