Are The Rangers Just One Big, Collective Rick Nash?

rick-nashAfter a wacky 3rd period in Vancouver, the Rangers fell to 4-6-1 since Tampa Bay snapped their 9-game win streak. Over that span, they’ve scored one or less 6 times – hard to win with that kind of output. The Blueshirts haven’t needed much more than that all year. They’ve lost just once in regulation (to Boston with under 2 mins left) when potting at least 2. There was a small stretch where Hank was mortal but he’s bounced back to allow just 4 in his last 3 yet NY has mustered only 3 points. Hell, even the Corsi fanatics have seen the top 2 5×5 Rangers efforts all year against Colorado & Vancouver. They’re still not finding the back of the net though & the losing continues.
Don’t blame Stepan’s injury. Step wasn’t setting the ice ablaze before he went down. His linemate Chris Kreider has been in a season-long funk as well with just one fluky goal & an assist in his last 11. More importantly, he simply hasn’t looked like the “too big, too fast, too strong” kid who many were expecting to break out this year. Youngster Kevin Hayes is in the same boat with only an apple over his last 8 & a visible lack of the play-making Rangers fans fell in love with after last year’s all star break. Guys like Lindberg & Zucc who helped carry the offense at times have expectedly cooled off but no one’s picked up the slack. Brass is the only top-sixer producing right now. Then, there’s Nash.
Hey Rick, you’re scaring the shit out of me bro. 6 of his 8 goals came in 5 straight games – that means he’s potted 2 over the other 22 and one of them was an empty net penalty shot gift. Nash has taken heavy scrutiny for lack of playoff production, but this is new ground for him. He did struggle in 2013-14 but that was at least in part to an early-season concussion that kept him out of action for a while – and he still managed to score at a 30+ pace. Last year he played like a Hart candidate. Through a third of this season though, he’s been nothing more than a solid role player as if it were mid-April already.
The Blueshirts are deep enough to usually make up for one another, but when all else fails you gotta expect your superstar to take over. Be a little selfish. Force the issue & find a way to put more than one puck on net. What the team needs right now is to see someone other than Hank going balls to the wall. Your $8M 40-goal scorer has got to be that guy instead of just another teammate waiting for someone else to do something.
Maybe that’s what this entire team is. A collection of Rick Nash’s. Talented enough to hang with the best of ‘em, but if things aren’t going their way there’s simply nothing they can do about it. The Rangers are missing a presence. There are teams in the league you KNOW you’re playing. Squads that can gut out a W or at least make their opponents fight tooth & nail to shut the door on them. Down a goal with less than 5 to play against the mediocre Canucks was some of the most lifeless, passive Rangers hockey I’ve seen. No urgency. No will. Just a bunch of guys hoping to find themselves an opportunity without actually creating one. It reminded me of a pair of 2-0 home losses that ended up costing the Rangers a trip to the Cup Final last year. If the same core is gonna play the same way it’s hard to expect a different result when it matters most this spring.