It’s become an all-too common problem: When the playoffs start, Rick Nash stops scoring. He had just one goal in 12 games in the 2013 playoffs, two markers in 25 postseason contests last year, and went into Game 6 against the Washington Capitals with a goal in 10 playoff games.
His third period marker on Sunday isn’t enough to compensate for his lackluster history, but it’s a start and for him, it’s also a big relief.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders,” Nash told NHL.com. “It was frustrating when you feel like you’re letting your guys down and your organization down by not scoring. The more important thing that I focus on is the wins.”
Nash still felt like he was contributing to the Rangers’ victories even when he wasn’t finding the back of the net and head coach Alain Vigneault agrees that he’s been “an effective player.” Still, his scoring touch is a big part of his appeal and that’s been largely absent since the postseason started.
Perhaps this will be the beginning of a hot streak for Nash. It would certainly be coming at an ideal time given that Game 7 of their second round series against Washington is on Wednesday.
In the meantime, here is his Game 6 marker:
If the Ottawa Senators re-sign goalie Andrew Hammond — and it sounds like they intend to try — they’ll need to trade one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner.
If they decide to trade Anderson, should the Oilers be interested?
There’s no easy answer to that question, because there’s no certainty, not ever, when it comes to a goaltender. But at the very least, the veteran Anderson possesses a body of work that suggests a modicum of reliability.
In 406 NHL games for the Blackhawks, Panthers, Avalanche and Senators, Anderson has a .915 career save percentage. That’s in line with Jonathan Quick (.915 in 407 games) and Ryan Miller (.915 in 604 games). Anderson’s numbers this season, albeit in just 35 regular-season appearances, were among the best in the league. He was even better in the playoffs.
If there’s a concern about Anderson, it’s his age — he’ll be 34 next week. He’s had his share of injuries as well. But his contract is reasonable, with three years left at a cap hit of $4.2 million. Edmonton would pay that in a heartbeat to stabilize a position that badly needs to be stabilized.
Now, it’s possible the Senators try first to deal Lehner. So, might the Oilers be interested in him? Possibly. But Lehner is only 23, and he’s never started more than 30 games in the NHL. For all his upside — and he has quite a bit — his inexperience may not be a great fit in Edmonton. The same goes for a guy like Cam Talbot. Great NHL numbers, but a limited body of work. Plus, Talbot’s numbers (.931 save percentage in 57 games) were compiled with the help of some pretty good defensemen. (Remember that Ben Scrivens had good numbers with the Kings before the Oilers got him.)
Another experienced goalie the Oilers could pursue this offseason is unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi. We’re just not sure that would happen if Todd McLellan ends up becoming their coach.
Related: Why sign Miller? Benning wanted ‘a goalie with experience’
Pekka Rinne’s time at the 2015 World Hockey Championship didn’t start very well, but sure improved quickly.
During Monday’s tilt against Belarus, the Finnish netminder set a tournament record for longest modern-day shutout streak, going 206:26 to break the previous mark set by Slovakia’s Jan Lasak in 2004.
Rinne set the record early in the first period.
As mentioned above, things didn’t start especially well for Rinne at this year’s tourney. He opened with a 5-1 loss to the U.S. on the first day of competition but got better — and in a hurry — following up that loss with wins over Denmark (3-0), Norway (5-0) and Slovenia (4-0).
In Finland’s last game, a 3-0 win over Slovakia, backup Juuse Saros got the nod.
Rinne’s shutout record at the Worlds is a feather in the cap of a pretty successful campaign. The Preds netminder earned his third career Vezina nomination on the strength of a 41-17-6 record, .923 save percentage, 2.18 GAA and four shutouts. The 41 were were two off his career-high, set in 2011-12 (when he finished behind Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick in Vezina voting.)