Advertisements

There’s more to Rick Nash than scoring goals, but he needs to start doing that too

Bobby Bevilacqua

rick nash profile 3-24

Rick Nash has been one of the most noticeable players on the ice for the Rangers in the playoffs, and has done a lot to help them win. But he needs to start scoring some goals as well. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Before I start, let me preface this article by saying I am not writing this to make an excuse for Nash. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t have to score goals, or that Nash can’t do more. That isn’t what I am saying at all. So please read the entirety of the article before making a quick decision.

Rick Nash’s postseason struggles are well documented. In 49 career games played, Nash has found the back of the net just six times on 170 shots, with five of those coming as a member of the Rangers.This equates to a shooting percentage of just 3.5%. His career shooting percentage in the regular season is 12.5%, so such a tremendous drop is very surprising.

These stats and struggles aren’t for a lack of effort or trying. In 45 playoff games since being traded to the Rangers, Nash has 274 shots on goal, which gives him a higher shots per 60 minutes rate (19.7) higher than everyone but Alex Ovechkin (25.8).

Nash has been doing pretty much everything right on the ice, whether it’s been creating chances for his teammates, winning puck battles along the boards, crashing the crease and setting screens, as well as playing a very strong two way game. He’s one of the most noticeable forwards on the ice every night, and does a lot of good for this team.

rick nash shooting 5-4

Nash has been pouring shots on goal in the playoffs, but he has not had any bounces go his way. He’s been heavily defended, but he needs to get to the danger areas more often. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Now I know “puck luck” and “getting bounces” aren’t a tangible stat, nor something to rely on when it comes to evaluating a player or their performance, but that “puck luck” certainly does not seem to be in his favor. Take for example a shot in the early parts of the first period. Nash fired a wrist shot on goal that managed to get through Braden Holtby, but the puck trickled wide of the net, perhaps glancing off of the outside of the post.

Plays like that have been happening throughout the playoffs, and it has been frustrating for both Nash and Rangers’ fans. He’s getting Grade-A chances, but a lot of them are either getting deflected, blocked, or just stopped by opposing goaltender. Rick Nash is too good of a player for this to continue throughout the playoffs, and I truly think the goals will start coming for him.

But during one of the NBC broadcasts, Mike Millbury called out Rick Nash for being “marshmallow soft,” arguably one of the stupidest comments I have heard this postseason. Yes, he isn’t scoring like he should and that has to change, but the fact that people believe that he has done nothing to help the Rangers, and is playing “soft,” is beyond me.

Out of the 15 goals scored by the Rangers in the playoffs so far, Nash has been on the ice for seven of them. One of those goals is his, and he’s assisted on four, tying him with Derick Brassard for first on the team with five points so far. Brassard has four goals, and Rick Nash has had a big part in practically all of them. And on Dan Boyle’s power play goal in Game 2, Nash provided a perfect screen on Braden Holtby. A lot of the offensive success the Rangers have had can be attributed to what Nash is doing on the ice.

rick nash celebrates 5-2

Rick Nash has been on the ice for seven of the Rangers’ 15 goals in the playoffs, and when you look at Derick Brassard, who leads the team with four goals, Nash had a big part in most of them. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

He also is one of the best possession players on the team, and can carry the puck into the Capitals’ zone with ease to start creating offense. His large frame allows him to consistently win puck battles, and his presence alone is a distraction, giving other guys opportunities.

On top of that, Nash is really good without the puck too. He has one of the most active sticks in the league, always breaking up passes and intercepting pucks to create rushes. He knows how to defend his man well, is practically never caught out of position, and has become a key penalty killer alongside Derek Stepan (Thank you Mike Babcock).

The Rangers would be a considerably worse team without Nash on the ice every night. Brassard probably wouldn’t have four goals, the penalty kill would suffer, and the Rangers wouldn’t be winning battles in their own zone as efficiently. He’s a very important player that has been a big part of the Rangers’ success this season, as well as in the playoffs.

With that being said, Nash was a 42 goal scorer in the regular season, and he needs to start playing like that same guy from the regular season. Too many times he has taken shots from the perimeter, and he has not been getting as many shots from close to the net. Part of this has to do with the fact that the defense is focused on him, but he needs to get to the dirty areas a bit more.

The Rangers need their elite goal scorer to start coming through. Like Alain Vigneault said, “at the end of the day”, the Rangers’ top guys like Nash need to score. The Capitals are not a deep team, but Alex Ovechkin has been a tremendous force, scoring four times as well as creating opportunities for others. Nash is “the guy” for the Rangers. It’s time for him to step up.

But blaming everything on Nash is foolish, why not look at this as a team shortcoming? Martin St. Louis has no goals and just two assists, and has really struggled when it comes to making plays and decision making. Derek Stepan has four points, but three of those came in two games against the Penguins. He’s the number one center on the depth chart, but his play hasn’t shown that. And both Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle have failed to provide that steady offensive force from the blue line.

martin st. louis 4-22

The Rangers need guys like Martin St. Louis to step up in the playoffs, and effectively fill in the void left by the absence of Mats Zuccarello. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

This is a Rangers team that is averaging just 1.88 goals per game in the playoffs, the same team that averaged over three goals per game in the regular season. It’s not just Nash, there are a lot of players that need to step up and get the Rangers offense going in Game 4.

Advertisements

Posted on May 6, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: