New York Rangers Need Rick Nash Back in Lineup Physically, Mentally

Rick Nash

Sergei Belski- USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash is eyeing a return next week after missing the last 15 games after suffering a concussion. Nash has been back at practice and may be looking to play Tuesday night when the Rangers host the Boston Bruins. If not, he will be in action on Thursday night against the Dallas Stars.

One way or the other, the Rangers need Nash back and the announcement of his return could not have come at a better time. He could very well boost this club in more ways than one while they are on the rise.

Right now, the Rangers have won seven of their last 10 games after a rough start to the 2013-14 season. After the loss of Marian Gaborik last season, it was imperative that Nash stepped up and took the center stage as New York’s go-to guy.

The problem is, how will he look in his return?

The 29-year-old All Star has been a scoring machine ever since coming into the league in 2002 with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has scored at least 30 goals in seven of his first 10 seasons and even managed 21 goals in the shortened 48-game season last year.

In order for the Rangers to keep the motor going and make a solid run in a weak Metropolitan Division, they need Nash to come back in full. He needs to be there mentally and physically.

We have seen a number of players making their return from a concussion and it is hard to say what is going to happen. Nash will need to be in check mentally knowing he is going to be a target on the ice. With his gritty style of play, it will be an adjustment for him specifically to get back into the saddle.

In the first two games of the season before suffering the injury, Nash recorded three assists in his first two games this year and will look to net his first goal of this campaign.

New York will look forward to having him back on the power play as well. They rank 17th in the league with the man advantage and 24th in the NHL in goals scored.

As long as Nash can handle the pressure coming back into a lineup that needs him, the Rangers will be knocking on the door of the Pittsburgh Penguins in no time.

Jeff Ekiert is the Pittsburgh Penguins/NHL beat writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @jmekiert and add him to your Google account.

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