Tag: Rick Nash

J.T. Miller, Derick Brassard

Miller’s ‘attitude has been outstanding,’ says Brassard


Just over a year ago, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault offered the following, candid assessment of J.T. Miller:

“He just hasn’t earned the right to be at this level on a regular basis. He needs more commitment. There needs to be more commitment from his part on the ice and off the ice, and until there is, he hasn’t earned the right to be at this level on a regular basis.

“It’s part of any young player going through the process of being an NHL player. You’ve got to figure it out, and hopefully he will, and when he does, we’ll have a good player. And if he doesn’t figure it out, he’ll be a good minor-leaguer.”

Ouch, right?

Well, fast forward to the present, one day after Miller racked up four points in a huge win over the Lightning, and here’s what linemate Derick Brassard had to say about the 22-year-old:

“I think his attitude has been outstanding the past two weeks. He’s been competing really hard. I think he’s energized our line. I remember last game he was trying to push me and [Rick Nash] to be better and to make a difference. He’s a guy with a really good shot, he wins a lot of pucks. He’s a really strong guy, and we need him to be really good to be successful.

“Last night it was just I think he got rewarded with all the hard work he’s been doing the past couple weeks.”

It hasn’t been an easy road to the NHL for the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2011, and he’s still got some developing to do. But we all know how important it is for teams to get contributions from their young players, and with Mats Zuccarello out indefinitely, Miller has picked a great time to prove he can contribute.

So much for Rick Nash’s slump


Hey, remember when everyone was burying New York Rangers winger Rick Nash?

OK, to be fair, his postseason struggles were starting to border on their weird. It’s not as if these were isolated incidents, as he’s now at 59 career playoff games (with No. 60 coming in Game 7 on Friday).

Whatever the case may be, the 30-year-old is firing on all cylinders all of a sudden. While Nash and the Rangers failed to score on Ben Bishop in Game 5, the power forward has otherwise been making up for lost time. Including last night’s four-point performance, seven of his 14 playoff points came in Games 4 and 6.

He really seems to be asserting himself overall, too, as he has five shots on goal in three straight games.

There’s a solid chance that Nash is just trying to supply standard answers when asked about his recent successes, yet it’s also plausible that he’s getting a dig or two in on his critics by chalking up much of his recent breaks to sticking with the gameplan (and playing stout defense).

That brings us to the chicken-and-the-egg argument regarding how much of his success comes from the red-hot work of linemates Derick Brassard and J.T. Miller.

All three forwards made some beautiful music together in Game 6, so it’s likely a collaborative effort. Brassard pegs Miller as the “energizer bunny” of the trio, which made for a fairly amusing interplay between the young forward and Pierre McGuire:

Much like Nash, Miller’s teammates have noticed his efforts even if it took some time for the results to really come, as Brassard noted to the New York Daily News.

“His attitude for the past two weeks, he’s been working really hard,” Brassard said. “I can remember the day when I was saying (J.T.) is really close to making a difference here and being on the board. And Rick was a beast.”

There’s also, uh, this.

A week ago, many believed that Nash’s confidence was shattered; now his line is being described as New York’s answer to “The Triplets.” (Hey, it’s not like there’s anything identical about Tampa Bay’s trio, right?)

Nash would be the first to note how quickly things can turn … but at the moment, he is silencing his critics.

A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video)

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For the second straight series in these playoffs, the New York Rangers have forced a Game 7 after facing elimination.

This time, it will be against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

It didn’t seem like much of a surprise that the Rangers had held on to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. They’ve been in similar situations like that before. But, needing the win, they erupted for five goals, chasing Ben Bishop from the net, in the third period to defeat the Lightning 7-3 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Derick Brassard recorded the hat trick for New York, capping off a five-point night that started with the opening goal less than four minutes in.

“Honestly I just go out there and I try to just make a difference,” Brassard told NHL.com.

“When I feel like the team needs some support offensively or I feel I need to step up, I just try to do it. I don’t really put any pressure on myself. The disappointment from losing last year I think really hit me from losing the last game at home and facing elimination tonight. We’re not far away to be in the Final again. I just play.”

J.T. Miller and Rick Nash each recorded four-point nights for the Rangers, as well.

The goals came quick in the final period. Miller, James Sheppard and Brassard each scored for New York within the span 4:12, ending the night for Bishop, who allowed five goals on 26 shots.

“That’s why the won the Presidents’ trophy. If you stop thinking about your net for a little bit, that’s what can happen,” said Bishop, as per the New York Daily News.

While the Lightning managed a pair of goals in the third, with New York comfortably ahead at that point, Henrik Lundqvist came up with another strong performance. His biggest save came off Steven Stamkos in the first period, with the Rangers up by a goal.

Shortly after that stop, a left-pad act of denial on one of the league’s best scorers, the Rangers were able to increase their lead, in a physical, at times chippy game.

Stanley Cup finalists a year ago, the Rangers managed to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit in the second round against Washington.

Against Tampa Bay at Madison Square Garden, do the Rangers have another series comeback in them?

We’ll find out Friday.

Nash, St. Louis break out in a big way during Game 4

Rick Nash

After the Rangers’ 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the question of if New York could keep this up was raised. To that point the Rangers had been averaging just two goals per game and while they had been getting results with that minimal offensive output, there hasn’t been a team dating back to 1998 that’s won the Stanley Cup with an offense that anemic.

The three contests that have followed have been wild and a complete deviation from the type of games that we saw in the Rangers’ first two rounds. The sheer number of offensive weapons at the Lightning’s disposal has made them hard for the Rangers to contain even after their strong showings against Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals. However, the Rangers were able to nearly match the Lightning blow-for-blow in Game 3 and then in Game 4 everything worked out for New York in a 5-1 victory.

The fact that the Rangers are scoring is big by itself, but it’s the players that stepped up that has to be particularly encouraging for them. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis are star forwards, but they haven’t been major factors offensively in the playoffs. That changed in Game 4 when they combined for three goals and four points.

That has to be a relief for both of them.

“The games keep piling on, you get chances — of course you’re pressing,” said St. Louis, per the Tampa Bay Times. “The guys who tell you they don’t press, they’re lying.”

He also admitted that ended a goal drought gives him “a second wind,” per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

The question now is if Nash and St. Louis can build off of Friday’s strong showing. If they can, then Tampa Bay will have a tough time winning this series. However, the Lightning remain a dangerous team and if two of the Rangers’ top forwards immediately go cold again, then that could be a serious problem for New York.

Comeback fit for a King: Lundqvist, Rangers even series in Game 4

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source: Getty Images
Getty Images

The New York Rangers were put in a tough position after goaltender Henrik Lundqvist surrendered six goals in back-to-back games. He responded with a great showing in Game 4 and his teammates were able to reward his efforts with plenty of support in a 5-1 victory Friday night.

Although the final score is unquestionably one-sided, the game arguably wasn’t. After a fairly even first period, the Lightning took off in terms of five-on-five shot attempts and scoring chances compared to the Rangers, as you can see in this chart courtesy of War on Ice:

















A big part of the reason why the Rangers won anyways was Lundqvist. He turned aside 38 of 39 shots to keep the Rangers in this game during some of their leaner stretches. Given his recent struggles, the fact that he was able to respond tonight is huge. His ability to step up when his team needs him the most is likely part of the reason head coach Alain Vigneault didn’t even consider swapping goaltenders for Friday’s contest.

The Rangers were also able to take advantage of their power-play opportunities. Markers from Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash with the man advantage in the third period provided them with plenty of breathing room. The fact that those two found the back of the net is noteworthy in itself given that both have been snakebitten for the most part in the playoffs.

Nash also scored in the first period, making this the first multi-goal postseason game of his career.

The Rangers evened the series at 2-2 and have reclaimed the home ice advantage in the process. The onus is now on Tampa Bay to win on the road, although that hasn’t been much of a problem for either team so far in this series.