Through the first quarter of the truncated
2012-13 season, the New York Rangers’ top forward has been their biggest addition from last offseason.
Rick Nash’s adjustment to the Broadway stage took less time than some who preceded him. One reason for that is Nash’s quiet demeanor and tireless work ethic.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella described Nash as a “low-maintenance player,” while Nash reiterated multiple times during the Blueshirts’ training camp that his goal was to fit in and simply help the team get to the next level.
The 28-year-old has done that through being a facilitator early in the season. Seven of Nash’s team-leading ten points have been assists, which is tied for the team-lead as well. Although Nash is setting up his teammates more this year than he did in Columbus, some have wondered when the perennial 30-goal scorer would begin to light the lamp himself.
However, Tortorella isn’t concerned about Nash’s production.
“We have a pretty comprehensive sheet that tracks offensive opportunities,” the Rangers’ bench boss said, “and Nash leads our team in that category.
“Even though the goals aren’t necessarily there, he’s been around the puck and involved in a lot of our scoring chances.”
In addition, Tortorella said that he wants Nash to be more assertive in taking shots — despite the forward averaging close to four shots per game.
“From watching tape, he has made some passes where we would like him to shoot,” Tortorella explained. “He’s had some opportunities at the top of the circles where he’s tried to make the extra pass (instead of taking the shot.
“But, a big part of his game is bringing pucks to the net and getting chances from in close.”
That part of Nash’s game was evident in the first period of the Blueshirts’ 4-3 victory over the Bruins on Tuesday. Streaking down the right side, Nash cut to the middle of the ice, putting the puck in between the skates of Andrew Ference.
As he was hauled down in front of the net, the five-time all-star slid the puck to Carl Hagelin, who simply shot the puck into the vacated cage.
For good measure, Nash helped the Rangers get the victory by making an incredible move on Tuukka Rask to score the Blueshirts’ first goal in the shootout.
Yet outside of the scoresheet, the 28-year-old continues to make an impact in each game. If Nash isn’t putting up points, he takes the body, as evidenced by his 26 hits through 12 games.
When the Rangers acquired Nash on July 23rd, the price was not cheap (Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick in the 2013 Draft).
Fortunately for the Blueshirts, their big-time acquisition has paid off big time.