Apr 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Rick Nash (61) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Nash has struggled before in the postseason with the New York Rangers. This year, he has to produce in the first round to shut all the critics up.
A common narrative surrounding the New York Rangers is that they would not have won the President’s Trophy if not for the stellar goaltending job of Cam Talbot. While that narrative is absolutely true, there is also another player responsible for the Rangers dominance this season: Rick Nash.
When the Rangers were beaten and injured early in the season, Nash carried the anemic Rangers’ offense by himself. He finished the season with 42 goals, a career high for the 30-year-old winger. But, as all of us in Rangerstown know, none of it will matter unless no. 61 can light the lamp over the next month and a half. That is why it is imperative for Nash to start fast in the Rangers first round matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
New York Rangers
The numbers put up by Nash in the postseason are so awful, you would think he started dating a Kardashian before they started. In 37 playoff games as a Ranger, Nash has scored an abysmal four goals. Last postseason, all three of Nash’s goals came against the Montreal Canadiens. The first was the seventh goal in a Game One rout, the second was an impressive game-winner in Game 2 and the third was the goal that started the comeback in a Game Five loss.
During the playoffs, however, we did see Nash transform into a 200-foot hockey player. He is much better in his own zone than he ever was before and he is also one of Alain Vigneault’s most trusted penalty killers. Last year, Nash didn’t get the bounces, but it did not effect his overall game
Nash’s playoff numbers are well known by Ranger fans. They realize that Nash has come up small when the lights have been shining the brightest the past two seasons. So in order for Nash to shut all of his critics up, he has to score in Game One. He has to come out and prove that other than Sidney Crosby, he is the most dominant skater in the series. He has to prove that he has the cojones to play with the big boys come April, May and June.
If Nash changes the narrative, he can go down as a legend in New York. This is a city, and more specifically a fan base, that is starving for a championship. If he can deliver when it matters most, Nash will become immortalized by Ranger fans, much like members from the 1993-94 team are.
Nash was voted the team MVP this season, and rightfully so. But if he comes up small again in the second season, it might be the beginning of the end of his time in New York. Come on now Rick, lets see what you got 6-1.
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