Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Nash hardly rusty in Rangers return
By Katie Strang
NEW YORK -- It would’ve been a lot to ask for Rick Nash to come back in his first game and single-handedly carry the New York Rangers’ unproductive offense.
But the 29-year-old winger, who played for the first time since missing almost six weeks with a concussion, had a promising return to action and showed little rust after his lengthy absence despite the team’s 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Tuesday night.
Nash, who was sidelined after taking an elbow to the head in the Rangers’ 9-2 loss on Oct. 8, played almost 18 minutes over 23 shifts despite coach Alain Vigneault’s original plan to limit him to approximately 15. Though he was held off the score sheet, he had an active night with five shots on goal: two that were blocked and three that missed.
Rangers winger Rick Nash returned to the ice after sitting out six weeks due to a concussion.
"I felt OK," Nash said of his performance. "I felt a bit slow making plays. I had a couple of chances when I could’ve passed it but I just had my head down. But I think the timing and the speed, that will come."
Nash, who skated on a line with Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan, committed a neutral-zone turnover on his second shift of the game but got better as the game progressed. He also appeared on the team’s first power-play unit.
"The first period, the first couple of shifts, it was tough," Nash continued. "But I found my game and found some chances on offense."
If Nash was underselling his ability to adapt after so much time off the ice, his linemates were not.
Callahan was impressed with Nash’s play and seemed encouraged that his injection into the lineup will help the Rangers’ scoring woes. The team has mustered only four goals in as many games and dropped two straight despite recording 80 shots during that span.
"He looked really sharp," Callahan said. "He was all over the puck, getting opportunities. He’s a fun guy to play with, so it was definitely good to have him back."
Vigneault identified "three or four Grade-A scoring chances" Nash had and expressed confidence that those will find the back of the net the more Nash adjusts to playing again.
"He’s only going to get better," Vigneault said. "Sooner or later, those are going to go in."
For a Rangers team starved for goals and preparing to ship off on a five-game road trip, the hope is that it happens sooner.