What an in-form Rick Nash means to the Rangers

September 4, 2014, by
Nash is integral to the Rangers hopes for 2015

Nash is integral to the Rangers hopes for 2015

Last season, it can be reasonably argued that no other ‘contending’ team had to put up with as much inconsistency from their top line than the New York Rangers. In fact, the Rangers were surely the only team to go deep in the playoffs who couldn’t even identify a clear top forward line. Injuries, a lack of cohesion, a new system and a poor start to the year were all factors in the Rangers not having a legitimate top line almost all year.

If the Rangers are going to repeat or better their Stanley Cup final appearance in June they will need a clear, dominant top line to emerge. They can’t rely on their bottom six to out work other teams any longer. It all begins and ends with Rick Nash. Nash is the second most important Ranger, behind Henrik Lundqvist, and in front of Ryan McDonagh. After all, if McDonagh falters the Rangers still have two quality top line defensemen in Staal and Girardi to rely on, without considering the merits of Dan Boyle and Kevin Klein.

When Nash isn’t in the line-up or struggles to score, the Rangers don’t have an equally talented, physical forward of Nash’s calibre to step up. At this stage, a contending team shouldn’t yet be relying on a Chris Kreider type who is still developing (albeit developing well).

Nash’s ability to rise to the occasion as a Ranger is a hot topic of debate but given that he missed 17 games last year and yet was still third in the league with 9 game winning goals proves the difference maker he can be. He missed those 17 games and still led the Rangers in goals with 26 (St Louis had 30 but the vast majority were with Tampa). If Nash returns to his 40 goal form, if he plays like the elite forward he once was the Rangers will have a strong year. It’s as simple as that. You know McDonagh and Lundqvist will hold up their end of the bargain.

A strong year from Nash has a huge impact on the entire roster. It probably means Derek Stepan has performed well. It probably means Kreider has continued to develop and it probably means the likes of Marty St Louis and Mats Zuccarello face lesser quality opposition as an in-form Nash always faces the best that opponents have to offer.

Nash is the absolute key to the Rangers offense. With a full off-season, sustained health and with the depth the Rangers appear to have up front, there aren’t really any excuses for Nash any longer. He needs to step up and the Rangers need him to step up. If Nash stays on the ice, if he spends less time on the perimeter then the Rangers can contend again. In the weaker of the two conferences, the Rangers can return to the Cup Final on the back of a strong Rick Nash. That’s how much he means to the Rangers.

"What an in-form Rick Nash means to the Rangers", 5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings.


  1. Furls says:

    I really hope Nash spends the year with Brassard & Zuke. Is he really that crappy on the left side??

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      He should be on the left side. I’ll be really dissapointed if AV plays him the whole year on the right. It may be against his wishes but he just hasn’t played consistently enough on the off wing. I personally think he and Stepan would have a better report with Nash on the left. He would also have the puck more as the first Forchecker hunting loose pucks and causing turnovers with his stick skills. He’s a master with the puck. Kreider might just be able to play the right side using his skating ability on the Forecheck as well. I don’t think he will be playing with anyone but Stepan at center though.

  2. Johnny Red says:

    Let us remember this game is 90% mental, and if we boo the guy all the time how does it help him? Confidence is key to these guys and as fans we can help keep it up. So try and remember to be positive because it will help him play better. How many players have been run out of cities by fans only to go somewhere else and thrive. LETS GO NASH!!!!!

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      Michael Del Zotto! Watch the Flyers work with him and get him back to a 40+ point defenseman. If he were a righty or the Rangers were already even with 3 right and 3 left handed defenseman. He may still be here. The fans ran him out of town tho. The “Del Zaster” nickname was just uncalled for and hurt his confidence. How is a player supposed to hit the net from 50-60 feet out when he’s second guessing himself all the time.
      I think this is the year Nash shows why he’s here and picks up some of the slack we had in depth scoring last season. He’s a key player and needs to draw the top competition from the opposition.

      • Paco 33 says:

        The only person responsible for Del Zotto’s under-performance and trade is Del Zotto. Did the fans in Nashville run him out of town as well?

  3. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    I don’t know if 40 goals is a realistic expection. He’s only achieved that twice in his career (40 and 41).

    The goal pace he had last year should be fine (33 goals over 82 games). I think he needs to get back to assisting on goals as well. His 13 assists last year is the worrisome number.

  4. Spozo says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t think he was awful last year? During the regular season he was on pace to score 33 goals, which would have been good for 11th in he he league. Add in the fact that despite the time away because of injury he was third in game winning goals.

    I will admit more production would have been better in the playoffs. But he was still a threat, albeit snake bitten, and still drew the oppositions top defenders and opened the ice for his teammates. He also wasn’t completely useless if he wasn’t scoring goals.

    My prediction is 30-35 goals and will be top ten in regular season goal scoring this year…..And people will still complain.

    • Mark in Miami says:

      Here’s the answer everyone:
      Booing Nash won’t make him score. I don’t care how much you love the Rangers, he puts too much pressure on himself as it is. So when he doesn’t score and that compounds game by game. Nash has to realize there’s a difference between EXPECTING to score and hoping to score. He needs to listen to some Anthony Robbins and get some confidence back! He needs to stop being a perimeter player(to his admission) and go hard to the net! If we make it to the playoffs, he needs to take over. His legacy and career depend on it!

      • Walt says:

        Personally, I believe Nash was gun shy after the concussion, hence the perimeter play. Going into the new season, and healthy, he should have no excuses, and should be a better player this coming season!!!!! At least we all hope so, right?????

  5. Pas says:

    “if he plays like the elite forward he once was the Rangers will have a strong year. It’s as simple as that. You know McDonagh and Lundqvist will hold up their end of the bargain.”


    You heard it hear first, he only played like a champ in that game against Columbus.

    I am stripping him of any titles, like ELITE, KEY, or TOP LEAGUE ANYTHING… he has not gotten close to his PAYCHECK!




    You pick… he hasn’t gotten it done, LETS PRAY MARTY CAN PICK UP THE BIG GUYS SLACK!


    • Bort says:

      He still has the potential. I’m not going to argue that he’s being paid too much for the results we’ve seen so far, but the technical skill is clearly still there based on the flashes of talent he shows. It definitely seems a mental roadblock more than anything else (also maybe he can stop it with the stupid spin-o-rama move that never seems to work).

      More importantly, other teams still need to acknowledge him, and if they don’t match good D to his line he can make you pay for it, which is how we managed such balanced scoring last season.

      BUT this is New York, and it’s cool to hate our teams and players I guess… Also ARBITRARY CAPITALIzation!

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Unfair comparision. Arod actually led his team to a championship in 2009.

  6. Chuck A says:

    Please. Please. Please.

  7. WilliamW says:

    Nash-Stepan-St. Louis. Looks like a good top line to me

    2012/13: 21 goals in 44 games. 39 goal pace
    2013/14: 26 goals in 65 games. 33 goal pace
    Has also emerged as a top PK guy while getting his PP minutes cut

    Nash will be fine. He struggled in the post-season, but so did Crosby. I’m confident that he will have a strong 30-35 goal regular season (assuming he remains healthy) and shoot better than 3% in the playoffs.

    His coaches and teammates look to him as the offensive leader and top player on the Rangers and they know a lot more than us fans on blogs. No issue

  8. mikeyyy says:

    I’m concerned. He was easily pushed off the puck late in the season and in the playoffs.

    His shot was way inaccurate. And he was doing everything right until that last move. Them he loses the puck.

    He needs to dish it earlier or drive the net and take the hit to male the right play.

    He starts talking perimeter again and I swear he will be traded before Feb.

    • Andy says:

      He needs to simplify his game – stop the Deking bs, and just put it on net quickly.

      It’s the Extra Milisecond that costs Ranger shooters their goals.

  9. Andy says:

    Funny, but when I was watching Gaborik score a zillion goals in the playoffs for LA, I said, “see, they’re just letting him skate, and giving him the simplest directions possible.”

    Good health last playoffs aside, Gaborik succeeded because Sutter didn’t ask too much of him other than, “skate, put puck on net.” He wasn’t asked to be The Guy, the Messier-type. I think that should be the direction the Rangers take with Nash. Let Kreider, Stepan, others take the team onto it’s shoulders and just think of Nash as a supplemental/PP specialist guy (albeit an overpaid one – the A-Rod analogy is PERFECT).

    Here’s the irony: I bet he scores his 35-40 in just such a scenario.