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. Boudreau: Maroon can be a ‘big force’ for Anaheim

    May 3, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Three Getty Images

    He’s working nicely with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

  2. Good signs for Calgary: Hudler, Ferland take morning skate

    May 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v Calgary Flames Getty Images

    Both were at least some risk of missing Game 2.

  3. Smith-Pelly doesn’t want to ‘jinx’ Habs locking down Stamkos

    May 3, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    Steven Stamkos, Alexei Emelin AP

    Still zero goals and just three assists for the star sniper.

  4. Haula gets in Wild mix with Fontaine hurt

    May 3, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Dwight King, Erik Haula AP

    Blackhawks fans probably remember him.

  5. Allowing scoring bursts is not how Blackhawks ‘want to play’

    May 3, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks - Game One Getty Images

    Brandon Saad: “We have to regroup, refocus and get the job done.”

  6. Caps add some depth by recalling Schmidt

    May 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT

    Alexander Steen, Nate Schmidt AP

    It’s unclear if this is injury-related.

  7. Kreider ‘a huge difference maker’ for Rangers

    May 2, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    Didn’t waste time getting on the board in Game 2.

  8. Giordano (torn biceps) takes part in full Flames practice

    May 2, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    But it doesn’t sound like there will be a dramatic, sudden return.

  9. Babcock should avoid a rebuilding team, says Cherry

    May 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    “You only have one life, enjoy it.”

  10. Blackhawks know they’re facing a ‘dangerous’ Wild team

    May 2, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    Minnesota almost completed the comeback in Game 1.

  11. Johnstown, Pa., to host inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA

    May 2, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT

    “Since the voting period began, we’ve received an astounding 20.4 million votes…”

  12. Trotz: ‘We weren’t good enough to win this hockey game’

    May 2, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    Barry Trotz Barry Trotz

    The Caps were out-shot 15-4 and out-scored 2-0 in the opening 20.

  13. Rangers hang on, even series with Caps

    May 2, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Henrik Lundqvist Henrik Lundqvist

    Lundqvist made 30 saves as New York edged Washington 3-2 in Game 2.

  14. Video: Ovechkin splits ‘D’, scores while falling

    May 2, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT

    Alex Ovechkin AP

    The highlight-reel goal pulls the Caps to within one.

  15. Wild’s Fontaine to miss Game 2

    May 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Justin Fontaine, Nick Foligno Justin Fontaine, Nick Foligno

    He suffered a lower body injury on Friday.

  16. Video: Lundqvist robs Ovechkin

    May 2, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpta0ntizmjbjndy3yti3nwe0nwfhnwy3odfjn2u2mwrm AP

    One of four first period saves made by the Rangers’ starter.

Featured video

Stanley Cup playoff Round 2 preview
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Zuccarello (2888)
  2. M. Giordano (1928)
  3. C. Price (1838)
  4. N. Kronwall (1718)
  5. K. Letang (1666)
  1. A. Ovechkin (1486)
  2. N. Beaulieu (1469)
  3. J. Hudler (1408)
  4. R. Lehner (1400)
  5. L. Bouma (1386)