Priority One: Keep Rick Nash On The Ice
NEW YORK RANGERS: Now That The Key Offensive Players Are Back Together Again, Let's Keep Them That Way!
I always thought Rick Nash possessed a unique combination of size, speed, toughness, and skill. While with Columbus, I also felt he played in a tough division - the former Central Division, versus Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Nashville. Yet, he hasn't thrown his body around like I envisioned, and has done even less to defend himself while with the Rangers.
I sometimes wonder if I misjudged him from afar.
Rick Nash has suffered two concussions this calendar year, or one in each of his last two seasons with the Rangers. He has survived two straight games now. Yes, that's an early dig against...everybody. Before returning to the ice against Boston, he had not played since the third game of the season - literally knocked out of action by a first period elbow to the back of his head on October 8th, courtesy of San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart. Last season, Boston's Milan Lucic administered the blow that concussed Nash.
Nash led the Rangers with 5 SOG in his first game back against the Bruins, and tonight, scored his first goal since returning against the Stars. He is looking sharp; not rusty. How fortunate for the Rangers....
If the Rangers intend on keeping Rick Nash on the ice, healthy, and productive, they will have to protect him, and if need be, in a very proactive manner. If the situation necessitates using their fists, then drop gloves and start ripping off helmets. Rick Nash also needs to do a better job of making opponents second guess themselves. Trust me, players in this league are acutely aware of who they can and can't take liberties with.
This goes for all Tex's Rangers. They currently have Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards all together again. Therefore, rogue skaters and runs at Rangers players must cease now.