Feb 4, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
3. Rejuvenated Nash
And then there was Rick Nash.
Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets two years ago, Rangers fans have been mixed on the power forward. Originally brought in as one of the main answers to a scoring problem, especially on the power play, that had yet to fester to the surface.
In his defense, Nash was playing injured with concussion-like symptoms. Yet, it was not fully revealed to the public. And despite all of this, he did his part. Albeit limited, he still did his part. He played in all of the Rangers playoff games last season and sacrificed his health to do it.
And yet, we as fans just saw his lack of offensive production. In 25 games, Nash produced 10 points for the team (three goals, seven assists). Not nearly enough for a player of his talents.
Dec 13, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; New York Rangers forward Rick Nash (61) skates in warm up against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The New York Rangers won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
However, this season was different and lends hope that this post season will be the same as well.
After coming into training camp as fit as he ever was, Nash ensured that this season was going to put all those negative comments about him to rest. He produced 69 points (42 goals, 27 assists), was in the running for the “Rocket” Richard Trophy for most of the season, and was the main reason the team was able to stay afloat while the team struggled early in the season. Not to mention his commitment to the defensive side of the game: back checking and forcing turnovers. He truly is rounding into a two-way forward.
But as with McDonagh, his game will be tested again when it counts: the playoffs. However, this may be different for Nash, individually. If the regular season was any indication of things to come, then opposing teams will need to be especially mindful of his presence on the ice.
Next: 4. In Cam We Trust