It has been nearly a month since the New York Rangers‘ Rick Nash suffered a concussion as a result of an elbow by the San Jose Sharks‘ Brad Stuart. Every story has been the same since: no timetable for his return, and no update on his condition. The Rangers continue to be very tight-lipped regarding Nash’s situation, therefore it is safe to assume he will not return to the lineup anytime soon. As a result, it is imperative that the Rangers proceed as if he will not return this season.
Yes, losing Nash is a major blow to a team that struggles to score goals. When healthy, Nash is a consistent 30-40 goal-per-season threat. The Rangers, however, cannot treat his injury like a death knell for their season. Lately, the team has performed much better, and they get their captain, Ryan Callahan, back from a broken thumb tonight. Without Nash, the Rangers are forging ahead with an admirable first line of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello. Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin have also stepped up.
Although Nash’s injury is a blow to the Rangers’ already razor-thin scoring depth, this Rangers team is now demonstrating an ability to grind out victories. Since the Rangers cannot get rid of Nash’s cap hit by placing him on long-term injured reserve, they will need to rely on the grinding mentality that once catapulted them to an Eastern Conference final appearance. General Manager Glen Sather needs to get very creative regarding moves to improve the team should Nash not return.
If Nash does not return this season, it is not a fatal blow to the Rangers’ hopes. However, days continue to pass without an update on Nash’s condition. The more days go by, the more likely the Rangers need to be ready to forge ahead without their best forward.