If you take a look at the last two games for the New York Rangers, the importance of Rick Nash to the team is evident. Despite the Rangers' most recent cash contribution to netminder Henrik Lundqvist, Nash is the team's most important player, and they will go as far as he can take them.
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog tweeted his reaction to the Lundqvist' re-signing on Thursday:
#NYR goals per playoff game during Torts' years: 1.57, 1.60, 2.15, 2.17. But yeah, it's all on Lundqvist that he hasn't won a Cup.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 4, 2013
Wyshynski's poignant tweet reinforces how important Nash is to the Rangers' success because it won't matter how good Lundqvist is in net if the team can't support him with some offense.
Nash was inconsistent after returning to the lineup on Nov. 19, and the Rangers were having trouble picking up points because of it. According to Andrew Gross of Northjersey.com, head coach Alain Vigneault called out his team by stating that he needed more from his top guys, and that includes Nash.
Nash is a 6'4", 213-pound power forward who can make a difference, and there is no reason why he can't be a 40-goal scorer and an 80-point player in New York.
The 2002 No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft has not had a multi-goal game this season. That is something that is going to have to change. Nash is one of the NHL's best goal scorers and should be producing at a higher rate in New York.
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As the Rangers' best offensive player, Nash sets the tone and others look for him to lead. Many fans and pundits suggest that Nash is one of the league's most overrated players. While you could make a case for that, he was a one-man band while in Columbus, doing things the best he could for the Blue Jackets.
Here is a look at Nash's production in the last two games:
Since returning from a concussion that forced him to miss 17 games, Nash has seven points in nine games, and 10 points in 12 games for the season.
He is producing at a team-best rate of 0.83 points per game and is slowly rounding into form.
Nash is surrounded with some solid secondary performers in New York with both Nash and the Rangers having mutually benefited to date. Rangers such as Derek Stepan have developed into quality contributors while Nash has improved his game as well.
Nash has always been known for his deceptive shot and his ability to take the puck to the net, but in New York, he has also learned how to use his reputation. There have been instances in which Nash has set up opponents with great passes because defenders assumed that he would be driving to the net.
In short, the Rangers need goals to win, and Nash has shown throughout his career that he can find the back of the net. He is a key player for the Rangers who sets the tone offensively.
As Nash goes, so will the Rangers this season.