The New York Rangers’ torrid start to the season is all the more remarkable given that prior to the past weekend, they had gotten almost no goal-scoring production out of star forward Rick Nash. Entering Saturday’s contest in Florida against the Panthers, the hulking winger had only scored two goals in 17 games this season, and only one of those actually entered the net.
That changed in a big way against Florida, and now the Rangers might be licking their chops in anticipation of a major Rick Nash goal-scoring run.
Nash Finally Breaks Out for Rangers
Nash scored a career-high 42 goals for the Rangers last season. His season included three separate stretches of four consecutive games with a goal. He also scored nine goals in the club’s first nine games. The 31-year-old has been a notoriously streaky scorer throughout his career. He had a slow end to the regular season last year which carried over somewhat into the postseason, though he did still put up a respectable five goals and 14 points in 19 playoff games — not as bad a playoff performance as some lazy narratives would have you believe.
Now, perhaps he will offset his cold streak that started the year with a classic Nash binge in the middle of the year. He did more than just show signs of that against the Panthers, as he broke out with a hat trick against Roberto Luongo and company, including the game-winner in overtime on the power play. In what was not the best game for the Rangers as a team — they blew a two-goal lead with under three minutes to play — Nash’s performance was a major bright spot.
Nash was hungry all night, putting 10 shots on goal. What was also encouraging was the way a scored his goals. His first one displayed deft skill, as he took a pass off his skate, kicked it back to a shooting position, and flipped the puck over Luongo’s glove from a sharp angle down low.
His second of the night (shown below) was a vintage Nash goal, as he used his size and strength to gain inside position on Florida’s Nick Bjugstad and shield the puck from him, before depositing it short side on Luongo. While it was a shot Luongo probably should have stopped, the way Nash drove to the net by taking advantage of his physical attributes was a great sight to see for Rangers fans. Nash finished off his evening with a power-play snipe from the top of the right circle to win the game in overtime.
Another Streak Coming?
Nash broke through in a big way on Saturday, and this could be the start of a hot stretch for him. His line with the brilliant Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard has been hot as a whole, but Nash had not really been contributing goals to that performance. With Zuccarello playing at an All-Star level, Brassard continuing his steady play, and now Nash getting some puck luck and confidence back, the first-place Rangers will become even more dangerous.
All the signs are there for another Rick Nash goal-scoring streak. Expect to see it come to fruition over the next several weeks.