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Vigneault: Top Players Need to Perform Tonight

What’s the old sports adage? Big time players step up in big time games? Whelp, apparently Alain Vigneault subscribes to that line of thinking (via Bergen Record)…

“I think it’s fair to say that whoever’s top players perform the best is probably the team that is going to win this game. We’ve got some good players.”

One of those top players who’s received his fair share of Rangers fans’ scorn this postseason for not stepping up is Rick Nash, who Vigneault specifically addressed…

“Rick is trying his best right now. He’s looking for holes. He’s protecting the puck. He got a couple of good looks last night. Nothing he can do a bout the first six (games). He’s got to focus on tonight.”

In the first six games of the series, Nash has been held without a goal, while chipping in four assists. He’s second on the team behind Brad Richards with 25 shots on goal and he’s drawn four penalties.

For you fancy stat nerds he has a 66.7% Corsi % (percentage of team shots for, while on the ice) which is 19.3% higher than the team’s average Corsi % as well as a 67.4% Fenwick % (percentage of unblocked team shots for, while on the ice) which is 18.2% higher than the team average. He’s also been on the ice for six Rangers goals for, while only three goals against.

Here’s Nash after another goalless postseason game last night (via New York Post)…

“I’m trying my best … I’m trying my best to help the team win,” Nash told The Post. “They’re not going in, so of course it’s frustrating.

 “It’s very frustrating.”

…for us as well, Rick. For us as well. It’s not like I don’t think he’s trying, because he obviously is, but the bottom line is he’s not getting the job done on the scoreboard. Yes, assists, shots on goal and fancy stats are nice, but I’m pretty sure the reason Glen Sather decided to give up Dubinski, Anisimov, Erixon and a first round pick for Nash was because he thought he was getting a legitimate goal scoring threat who would help turnaround their postseason goal scoring doldrums.

…this needs to be a defining moment for Rick Nash. Before tonight’s game, AV needs to put the All Star forward in a room by himself and force him to watch his performance in Columbus last month on loop until he’s brain washed “A Clockwork Orange” style…

 …now, as AV says, the Rangers need all their top players to perform tonight. As Nash has proven during his two years in New York, he can’t do it by himself, so St. Louis & Stepan can’t have a repeat performance of last night and Richards needs to rekindle his power play magic from earlier this series. And on defense, McDonagh-Girardi must resemble one of the top defensive duos in the league not Game 6’s reincarnation of Malik-Rozsival.

…but whether it’s fair or not, tonight is going to be all about Nash. If he’s finally able to put this team on his back, score the big goal and help the Rangers get into the second round he’ll begin to repair a lot ill will towards him in Rangersland. But if he, along with the Blueshirts, go quietly into the night, an ARod type reputation awaits Nash on the other end. Oh wait, ARod won a championship. Nevermind.

Kevin

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