On a night when forward Rick Nash was scratched due to injury, the New York Rangers played like the rest of their offense was scratched too.
Without Nash, the Rangers struggled to find scoring chances, resulting in a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Even though there were only two penalties called on Montreal, the Rangers looked like they spent the game on one long power play. Usually that’s a good thing, except it looked like a Canadiens power play.
The lack of offense without Nash shows how much effect he has on the game, even if he’s not scoring as much as expected. Nash does so many other things on the ice to help set up scoring opportunities for other players—a reason for his team high nine assists.
Players like Marion Gaborik and Brad Richards bear the scoring burden without Nash in the lineup, but the two combined for three shots on goal in just under 34 minutes of total ice time. Aaron Asham had the same number of shots as Gaborik in 15 less minutes of ice time. Gaborik also took Nash’s spot on the first power play unit, which went 0-for-2 to continue the league’s worst power play efficiency.
This game alone might have vindicated the offseason trade for Nash—if any vindication was even needed.
If the Rangers are going to struggle this much offensively without Nash in the lineup, the Rangers can forget about being a championship contender. Nash has been a relatively healthy player throughout his career, but in this shortened season the Rangers can’t rely on that.
The Rangers need other players to hit their offensive stride while Nash is still trying to find his shot, so when Nash’s career low 5.3 shooting percentage starts to improve, the Rangers can be an offensive force.
If the Rangers are going to continue to play offense like they did against the Canadiens, they might need more than Rick Nash for help.
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