Feb. 28, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) and Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Cory Conacher (89) battle for the puck during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The Rick Nash Effect

Last night Rick Nash made his return to the Rangers lineup after being sidelined for four games. The Rangers lost all four of those games he didn’t feature in.

Then last night the Rangers utterly dominated the Lightning for probably 70% of the game and everyone was playing a role in the win. Helping last night’s cause was Del Zotto’s return too, but let’s focus on Nash.

Brad Richards has been pretty bad over the last four games and suddenly last night he looked like his normal self. He played over 20 minutes, had 3 shots on goal, and won 17 of 20 from the faceoff dot. He also had a good assist on Nash’s goal.

So why the sudden turnaround for Richards? Definitely playing with Rick Nash played a part in it. Richards elevated his game for Nash. Also having Nash on his line meant Richards didn’t have to try to create most of the offense and carry the puck into the zone.

Carl Hagelin meanwhile has had a very good season definitely exceeding expectations thus far. But the last four games without Nash he’s been sort of meh. Not good or bad, just not contributing. Basically he took a passenger’s role on the team. Then last night he played with Nash and looked a hell of a lot more confident and played to his strengths again. I mean he even took a slap shot on his goal. You don’t see Hagelin take many slap shots. The only other time I recall him even taking one was his goal in Buffalo last season. Maybe he should be taking more of them.

Overall, Rick Nash provided a huge boost to the Rangers lineup last night. The guy took 12 shots on goal (I don’t ever recall a Ranger doing double digits in shots) and seemingly could have won the game without the rest of the team. Let’s hope the Rangers can build off this win and Rick Nash can start helping some other players to boost their games.

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Tags: Brad Richards Carl Hagelin Rick Nash

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