Rick Nash’s resurgence and tempering expectations

Shooting at 22.4% (Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News)

Shooting at 22.4% (Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News)

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.

8 Responses to “Rick Nash’s resurgence and tempering expectations”

  1. SalMerc says:

    Nash is a stud. Opposing defenses will figure out a way to contain him, but that will hopefully wake Krieder up. When he is determined to get a good shot, he is one of the hardest to stop in the league.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t think it’s a matter of waking Kreider up. He’s not getting many scoring opportunities because Nash’s shots keep going in.

      • SalMerc says:

        Not 100% in agreement. Nash plays hard and gets shots, but Kreider needs to take more shots or stand in front for some tip-ins/re-directs. His pace has slowed while Nash’s has picked up. Two threats are better than one.

        • Walt says:

          Have to agree with Sal on this one. The Kreider kid will start getting his chances so enough, now that the defenses are starting to look at Nash first. What a great problem to have, you try to stop one, the other kicks in and scores!!!!!

  2. Scully says:

    This olympic break is going to be killer. As much as I love the olympics, I love the late-winter NHL crunch time even more.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    You all got it wrong. As long as defenses put more pressure on kreider to stop him from scoring it will open up Nash for better looks and better shots. and the beauty of that line is….

    when the defenses start to try to contain Nash they will unleash kreider .

    any way you look at it its +1 for us.

  4. Bloomer says:

    Nash had a slow start to the season, to be honest he looked a little out of shape to me. But he is in fine form now and is entertaining to watch. I think he will be a difference maker when Canada brings home the Gold metal.

    • rangerinexile says:

      He had a concussion early on. I think we all forget how long that can linger and slow a player down. He was out of shape after that–can’t keep up your conditioning while concussed after all.