When star winger Rick Nash of the New York Rangers suffered two blows to his left leg in the third period of a 4-1 victory at Carolina on January 22, things did not look great. Having had to shake off the pain from a crash into the boards, Nash then returned only to take a hard shot off his leg.
When the prognosis on his injury was revealed to be a bone bruise, and not a fracture, there was understandably a feeling of relief around the Rangers and their fans, as they figured Nash would only miss a few games. Now though, it is nearly a month later, and Nash is nowhere close to returning. Rather than being considered day-to-day, New York head coach Alain Vigneault revealed on Saturday that Nash is now week-to-week.
As time passes by and Nash continues to miss games, there has to be growing concern among the Rangers as to what is really going on, when Nash might be able to return to the lineup, and what his continued absence might mean.
Injury Dragging On
The severity of Nash’s injury, when the initial prognosis seemed favorable, is eerily similar to the situation that befell another star athlete in New York — first baseman Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees.
In the midst of a surprisingly strong season for both himself and his team in 2015, Teixeira fouled a ball off his leg in an August game, and the initial diagnosis was a bone bruise, much like Nash. From that point though, days became weeks as Teixeira continued to miss games, but the Yankees insisted that it was just a bone bad bruise, and that there was no evidence of a fracture.
Then, finally, the diagnosis changed nearly a month later, as a fracture was finally revealed in a follow-up MRI and CT scan. Teixeira was ruled out for the rest of the season, and the Yankees wilted without him, eventually bowing out in a wild-card play-in game.
The whole situation was curious, as it seemed hard to believe that a team with such a medical staff and resources at its disposal could not get the diagnosis right sooner. Could the same thing be happening with Nash and the Rangers? Is it really just a bone bruise, or is there actually a fracture, which would put Nash’s season in jeopardy? This is all just speculation of course, but the extended period of Nash’s injury, and the similarities to Teixeira’s predicament, certainly raise some questions.
“The bone bruise is just taking longer than we expected to heal. Last week I told you he was shut down for like five days, well now they (the medical staff) are going to shut him down for another week. He’s still having issues walking.” – Alain Vigneault (blueshirtsunited.com)
Implications for Rangers
Vigneault’s statement about Nash, and the change in his status, certainly do not bode well for a Rangers team that has finally started to play good hockey on a consistent basis. Thankfully, players like J.T. Miller have stepped up in Nash’s absence to help the club begin to reclaim its status as a strong contender in the Eastern Conference. Even so, it is hard to expect the Rangers to continue to have a lot of success long term without Nash — particularly on offense.
If the Rangers are to build on their recent success and make another run at the Stanley Cup, they might need to consider picking up another scoring forward if they can. With the trade deadline a mere two weeks away, and Nash’s return not happening any time soon, the situation becomes that much more dire for the Rangers.
That said, they are in a tough spot. They are a veteran team with too good a record to not be in win-now mode, but they are also not the elite force they have been the past couple of seasons. Furthermore, they have a fairly barren cupboard of prospects and draft picks, having dealt away a lot of those the past two years in go-for-it-now deals for Martin St. Louis and Keith Yandle.
Just like Ryan McDonagh’s concussion status has seemingly made the Rangers reconsider their stance on Yandle, Nash’s alleged bone bruise might make them more inclined to explore a deal for a top-6 winger.