Skip to content

PHT’s Pressing Questions: Can Nash put the Rangers over the top?

Jan 10, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT

Rick Nash

Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.

Last season, the New York Rangers fell just two wins short of playing in the Stanley Cup finals. They beat Ottawa and Washington in seven games, and lost to New Jersey in six. All in all, it was a good run.

But for all the good they did, they only scored more than three goals once in 20 games, and that was in the first game of the first round when they got four.

Thus, the blockbuster acquisition of Rick Nash from Columbus in July that sent Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first round draft pick to the Blue Jackets.

Nash, 28, was the NHL’s first overall pick in 2002. Since then, the big winger has scored 289 times in 674 games. Of all the players with fewer than 700 games played, only Alex Ovechkin has more career goals.

True, Nash comes with a big contract – six seasons remaining with a cap hit of $7.8 million. But guys with seven 30-goal seasons that are still in their 20s are somewhat hard to come by.

Following the conference final defeat to New Jersey, Rangers general manager Glen Sather was determined to improve his club’s offense.

“This changes the complexion of our team,” said Sather. “It’s not going to change the way we play, but his ability is – he’s a world-class player, and was very excited to come to New York. We were one of his chosen few right from the beginning.”

But will Nash buy in to the Rangers’ do-whatever-it-takes philosophy that saw them block the third most shots in the NHL last season?

“I have no worry in the world about that,” said Sather. “If you remember, if you look at the record that this guy’s had over his career, he’s got a tremendous record of being an excellent hockey player. He played in the Olympics, he was one of the better players on that team.

“[Rangers head coach John] Tortorella’s coached against him not only in the NHL but also at the Olympics, and knew very well what his style was, knew that he’d fit in well with us. Everyone in our organization was after this guy.”

Besides, blocking a lot of shots isn’t always a good sign. When you’re blocking shots, you don’t have the puck. The Minnesota Wild led the league in block shots last season; the Islanders were second. Puck possession, or lack thereof, was a major concern for Tortorella in the New Jersey series.

In Nash, the Rangers get a big body that can control the puck in the offensive zone.

Thursday morning, Nash was skating with center Brad Richards and winger Marian Gaborik. Safe to say, not many teams can put together a trio like that.

Also safe to say, Nash never had linemates like that in Columbus.

“I think the main thing was looking at the team,” Nash said in July, “looking at what they’ve done over the years. It’s something I’d love to be part of.

“I’d love to help them out.”

Latest Posts
  1. Sabre rattling: Buffalo overhauls Nolan’s coaching staff

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    tednolan2ap AP

    Sacco, Forton, Numminen and Corsi are out.

  2. Pressing question: Could this be the year of the upset?

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

    Gustav Nyquist, Tuukka Rask AP

    Top seeds don’t have it easy in the first round.

  3. Belov bolts Edmonton, signs in KHL

    Apr 16, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

    Anton Belov Getty Images

    Spent one season with the Oilers, now off to SKA St. Petersburg.

  4. After 12-game absence, Prust back for Habs

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:53 PM EDT

    Brandon Prust Getty Images

    He’ll dress for the series opener against Tampa Bay tonight.

  5. Emery to start Game 1 versus Rangers

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery deflects the puck over his head during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek) AP

    Steve Mason is “out.”

  6. Get your game notes: Jackets at Penguins

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Penguins Blue Jackets Hockey AP

    Pittsburgh won all five meetings between the teams during the regular season.

  7. Bulletin-board material: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara AP

    Prove us wrong, all 16 teams. Prove…us…wrong.

  8. Lightning’s Filppula, Palat expected to return for Game 1

    Apr 16, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

    Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula

    Tampa Bay’s top-six would have been in trouble without them.

  9. Fleury’s true comeback bid starts tonight

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:58 AM EDT

    Marc-Andre Fleury Marc-Andre Fleury

    His solid regular season will be overshadowed by whatever he does in the playoffs.

  10. 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: PHT’s Round 1 picks

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    StanleyCupPlayoffs14

    Add yours in the comments section.

  11. Report: Duchene to miss at least first two games of Avalanche-Wild series

    Apr 15, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Colorado Avalanche Getty Images

    “It puts a lot more pressure on everybody else,” says Nathan MacKinnon.

Featured video

Are Penguins vulnerable vs. Columbus?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. E. Malkin (4507)
  2. T. Oshie (3274)
  3. M. Brodeur (3113)
  4. M. Duchene (3108)
  5. D. Backes (3034)