How Much of a Boost Should New York Rangers Expect When Rick Nash Returns?

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor INovember 10, 2013

NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 16: Rick Nash #61 of the New York Rangers speaks to the referee during the game against the New Jersey Devils during a preseason game at the Prudential Center on September 16, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Devils defeated the Rangers 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Rangers are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games played, and they are 9-8-0 on the year. Rick Nash has missed the last 13 games, but the Rangers have trudged on without their elite sniper. 

Although it hasn't been easy, the Rangers have found ways to win. But the Blueshirts won't be without Nash for much longer. General manager Glen Sather said that Nash is on the road to recovery, but at this point his conditioning is what needs work.

Now that Nash is preparing to return to the lineup, how much of a boost can the Rangers expect from No. 61 once he steps back onto the ice?

The biggest boost at first will be psychological, but there will be a boost in production in due time.

The current roster will feel a euphoric lift, and they will find some extra space on the ice. Nash is an elite scorer that demands the respect of opposing defenses because he is able to pull off moves like this.

Although Nash may be rusty after spending so much time away, he will get his game back in due time, and he will be able to help boost the Rangers offense. Additionally, players on his line will be given more room on the ice, because Nash will automatically be the No. 1 target to shut down.

This psychological advantage will help give the Rangers a big boost, and it will be something that the Rangers can use to motivate them through the next couple of weeks.

In terms of actual scoring, the Rangers shouldn't depend on Nash for a large boost off the bat. He has missed a lot of games, and it going to take time for him to read situations and rekindle some chemistry. This takes time. But there is no set timetable.

For example, Nash suffered a concussion last season, and he was able to score with ease once returning to the lineup. Things may go differently this time, but at least the Rangers aren't solely dependent on Nash.

Rangers Offensive Production
Goals With NashGoals Without NashGoals Per Game With NashGoals Per Game Without NashWins With NashWins Without Nash

As previously stated, the team has had to exist and produce without him, and that will be huge for Nash as he eases back into the swing of things.

Players such as Brad Richards, Chris Kreider, Ryan Callahan, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan have all played well, and their games should only get better from having Nash back in the lineup.

Leading Scorers
Brad Richards6915
Derek Stepan4913
Ryan McDonagh4610
Mats Zuccarello279
Carl Hagelin448
Chris Kreider268

For the Rangers to be a successful playoff team, they are going to need Nash to be a big contributor. If there was any positive from this situation, it was this.

The Rangers were put in a situation where they had to deal with a number of injuries. Instead of giving up and using injuries as an excuse, the Blueshirts played hard and piled up victories. They have had setbacks and have made mistakes along the way, but they are looking like a team that could be a playoff contender.

The latest news is great for Nash and the Rangers, but it is bad news for the rest of the league. The Blueshirts are white-hot right now, and putting Nash back in the lineup makes the Rangers a very dangerous team.

Early in the year the Blueshirts were struggling because of bad defense and goaltending, but they are getting their act together. When you pair that with an offense that is improving, the Rangers are slowly showing why they could be the team to beat this season.