In the mind of Alain Vigneault, Rick Nash has done many positive things for the New York Rangers in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
He just hasn’t been scoring, which has been an issue in the two previous times the 29-year-old Nash was in the post-season.
“I mean, he’s doing everything that I think you want from a player. He’s going to the tough areas. He’s shooting the puck. He’s going hard on the forecheck. He’s being physical. He’s creating turnovers,” Vigneault, the Rangers’ head coach, told reporters on Thursday, the day after his team staved off a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final against the L.A. Kings.
“You know, all I can say right now is I got to believe by playing the way he is right now, he will get rewarded. I’m hoping that’s going to be tomorrow.”
The Rangers, down 3-1 in the series, need three more wins in order to win their first championship since 1994.
Nash’s struggles to score in the post-season go beyond this year; he had two goals in a combined 16 playoff games prior to this spring. The tale of his post-season woes has been interesting, especially again this year.
Some examples of the ever-evolving story line:
April 26: Rangers hope for more goals from Rick Nash
May 6: Rick Nash has yet to don his boy boy pants
May 7: Video: Slumping Rick Nash booed by Rangers fans
May 11: Nash on playoff-long goal drought: ‘The chances are there’
May 16: ‘Overdue’ Nash getting chances, says AV
May 17: Video: Rick Nash finally scores a playoff goal in 2014
May 19: Video: St. Louis, Nash score again
May 20: PHT Morning Skate: Rick Nash has reason to smile more
June 4: Rick Nash getting things done in other ways for Rangers
June 7: Nash says he has to finish chances, cut turnovers in Game 2
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.