In case you missed it, Rick Nash went nuts in January. He scored 11 goals in 11 games last month, sandwiched between two-game point-less streaks. There has been a dramatic shift in the way Nash plays as well. He seems more engaged, more willing to go to dirty areas, and back to the Rick Nash the Rangers thought they were getting two summers ago. On the ice, he’s been a machine.
But let’s take a step back for a moment. In that 11 game span, Nash scored 11 goals on 49 shots. That’s a whopping 22.4% success rate. That is exactly double his career shot percent rate of 11.2%. Suffice it to say, that is simply impossible to maintain. We’ve even started to see Nash hit a snag in terms of keeping with that pace, as he’s 0-for-12 in his last two games.
Expecting Nash to continue to score on his torrid pace is, well, unreasonable. Expecting him to continue shooting 22% is also unreasonable. So what should we expect of him?
That answer is simple: We should expect him to continue playing the way he did all of January. The pucks may not go in at the current rate, but it’s about doing the right things on the ice. His shot percentage will drop a bit, that’s a given. But his strong, physical play on the ice will open up space for his linemates to chip in as well. Shots that are going in now may hit a pad and create a rebound for Chris Kreider or Derek Stepan.
That’s the beauty of the way Nash is playing now, the way he’s played his entire career. He’s going to have absurd streaks like he did last month. But even when those pucks stop finding twine, his presence –and continued strong play– will create opportunities for others.