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Rick Nash and Brad Richards Absent for 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Alex Silverberg

Through the first eight games of the postseason, Rick Nash and Brad Richards, two of the Rangers’ most important players, have one goal and three assists combined. If not for the stellar play of Henrik Lundqvist and the emergence of key role players, the Blueshirts would have been out of the dance weeks ago. However, if the Rangers wish to advance to the Conference Finals, Richards and Nash must improve.

Brad Richards came to New York to be the puck-moving center Marian Gaborik never had. But the two never really jelled, and Gaborik was traded to Columbus at the deadline. Fast-forward to the playoffs and Richards has played so poorly that he’s been demoted to the fourth line. Mind you, he is still getting power-play minutes, which makes sense, since the Rangers have scored less than 3 PPGs in their eight postseason games so far. Richards has lost his way completely, making his mammoth contract almost as bad as the one signed by Chris Drury, among others. The fourth line is a perfect place to prove his worth again, but he should be off of the power play until he can put in some effective 5-on-5 minutes.

And then there’s Rick Nash.  ou can’t have your top offensive player goalless going into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although his shifts in Game 7 of the Washington series and Game 1 last night were encouraging, I don’t think Rick Nash is 100 percent. He is playing injured
against top defensemen, which is a lot for even a player of Nash’s caliber to overcome. It’s hard to pinpoint when he was hurt, but I think the contact to the head (accidental or not) caused by Milan Lucic’s hit on February 16 resulted in a concussion.

Nash missed a few games following this incident, but came back playing inconsistently for the rest of the season. For the Rangers to go any further, they need Rick Nash to be Rick Nash. So far he has been slightly above-average, which is not good enough.

Without their two big stars playing up to snuff, the Rangers have been propelled not only by the determined play of Henrik Lundqvist, but also by the emergence of players received in the Gaborik trade. John Moore has been a revelation moving the puck and playing big minutes against skilled scorers. Derek Dorsett has brought a snarl and nastiness to the team not seen since the departure of Brandon Prust. And last, but certainly not least, Derrick Brassard has been the offensive MVP so far with two goals and eight assists.

Lundqvist and all these secondary skaters playing big is key to a long playoff run, but to be successful, you need a horse and a guy to feed him. You need a player that can give you a big goal when you need it the most. You need someone to create offensive opportunities with their passing. The Rangers have Rick Nash and Brad Richards on the payroll for just those reasons. Time for them to earn their contracts.


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