At a glance: Looking for a bounce-back performance after Thursday’s disappointing 4-2 loss to Chicago, the Rangers host the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden. The lopsided match-up will likely take a back seat to the off-ice interplay between the two organizations, however, with Rick Nash paying a visit to Broadway as trade talk heats up.
Nash-sanity: The Rangers are one of a handful of teams pushing to land the coveted 27-year-old Nash and Sunday presents the first live look at what he has to offer. Long considered un-moveable by Columbus, Nash was reportedly placed on the trading block by the beleaguered Blue Jackets early last week igniting a firestorm of speculation around the league. The former first overall pick, who has spent his entire career in Columbus, would provide the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers with another dangerous scoring threat up front. Nash, on the second year of a eight-year, $62.4 million deal, has 18 goals and 21 assists in 58 games for Columbus this season.
Strong scouting presence: Columbus has had a strong and steady scouting presence at Rangers’ games this past week. Howson was in Philadelphia Saturday for the team’s 5-2 win over the Flyers and will be in town Sunday to take in the match between the Rangers and his Blue Jackets. Assistant general manager Chris MacFarland was in Boston for the Rangers’ 3-0 shutout victory against the Bruins and watched the Blueshirts fall 4-2 to Chicago at home Thursday. Blue Jackets senior advisor Craig Patrick attended the Rangers’ minor-league team’s 6-3 win over Springfield Friday in Hartford, CT, although it should be noted that Springfield is Columbus’ AHL affiliate.
In pursuit: Howson is expected to meet with Rangers general manager Glen Sather, but Sather isn’t the only GM in hot pursuit of Nash. A source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, New York on unrelated business, met with Howson in Manhattan Sunday morning. With eight days remaining until the NHL deadline, a handful of teams are courting Nash. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun that the Rangers, Kings, Leafs and Flyers are among teams that have had trade talks with Columbus regarding Nash.
Still sitting: Ruslan Fedotenko will sit out his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury that is assumed to be a concussion. The veteran winger has not played since last Thursday after a fine-worthy hit from then-Lightning forward Dominic Moore, who has since been traded to San Jose. Wojtek Wolski and defenseman Jeff Woywitka will be scratched for the second straight game since returning from their two-week AHL conditioning stints.