It's no secret that it's been a rough season for Rick Nash. He suffered a debilitating concussion in the third game of the season and has been unable to discover the scoring touch that Rangers brass thought would get them over the hump when they traded valuable assets to acquire him from Columbus.
However, over the last six games, Nash has slowly begun to resemble his old self. He's using his big frame to open up space and win puck battles. He's moving his legs to beat defenders and create offense. And it's showing up on the scoresheet with 3g, 1a in those games.
The one thing Nash still isn't doing with regularity is going hard to the net. As proved by Carl Hagelin's game winner last night, when you drive to the crease, good things happen.
One encouraging sign is that Nash is at least acknowledging he must be more aggressive (via New York Post)…
"I’ve been spending too much time on the outside…Sometimes in the big picture you think that you’re effective on the outside, but I have to get to the inside and I know that. I know what I need to do here.”
…why would Nash ever think he's effective on the outside? His big body screams for him to drive to the net everytime he's in the offensive end whether he has the puck or not. Unless this is just an excuse for his concussion concerns.
…now that Nash has identified the problem, it's time for him to make the proper adjustments. There's not many defenders in the league with the size to shut Nash down when he's being assertive and confident down low. Not only will he put himself in better position to score, he'll open up more ice for his linemates.
…i have to put some of the blame for Nash's passiveness on AV. There's no way at this point in the season Nash should still be thinking he's effective on the outside. Vigneault should have been brainwashing Nash into a creasing crashing machine for the last month by showing him this video on loop ala A Clockwork Orange…
…it's no surprise that the Rangers turnaround has coincided with Nash's improved play. Having said that, it's still not enough from the Olympian. He needs to not only start dominating games, but raise the play of everyone around him. Unless he's able to find consistent offense, the Rangers are going to have a tough time qualifying for the playoffs.