Rangers Notebook: Nash assimilating into team’s offense
The organizational goal this summer was to acquire Rick Nash.
In July, the goal was accomplished. Now, the work of assimilating the power wing into the culture and structure of the team begins.
So far, so good, according to John Tortorella.
“He’s going to be a really good player for us,” Tortorella said prior to Sunday night’s Garden opener against the Penguins.
The 28-year-old entered tonight’s game with 548 points in 675 NHL games. All 289 of his goals were scored while a member of the Blue Jackets. He assisted on Brad Richards’s goal in the Rangers’ 3-1 loss in Boston Saturday night.
Long known for riding his top players, Tortorella will do the same with Nash. He told the assembled media that he will play on the penalty kill. Nash should add some potency to a penalty-kill unit that scored eight short-handed goals last year.
Nash had played on the Blue Jackets’ shorthanded units during his tenure in Columbus. He scored 14 man-down goals in his nine seasons with the Blue Jackets.
“You can see what he’s going to be able to do with the puck — also away from the puck. We’re trying to use him killing penalties. I think he’s picked that up pretty quickly, as far as how we do it. So he’s going to be a pretty good player,” Tortorella said.
Nash is expected to bolster a power play unit that scored just 43 man-advantage goals last year. Eighty-three of his 289 goals came on the power play, including six last season.
While he brings the large frame (6-foot-4, 219 pounds) and hard, accurate shot coaches covet, he is not the point shot the Rangers have long lacked. When asked directly by Metro New York if Nash’s inclusion mitigates the lack of a point shot, Tortorella said, “Not really, no. It’s always nice to have that point shot.”
Arron Asham replaced Brandon Segal in the lineup. … According to an NHLPA spokesperson, the union did not have a response to Jeremy Jacobs’ comments Saturday about the just-completed lockout. Jacobs, the owner of the Boston Bruins and the chairman of the Board of Governors told reporters at the TD Garden before the season-opening 3-1 win over the Rangers that the union leadership made “no expression of desire to make a deal.” Jacobs also suggested that reporters “ask the other side” why the lockout lasted as long as it did. … NBC Sports announced that Saturday’s season-opening games carried on NBC set ratings records. NBC did a 2.0 overnight rating, which is the best for any regular-season game outside of a Winter Classic. …The Toronto Maple Leafs and left wing Joffrey Lupul agreed to a five-year, $26.250 million extension Sunday morning.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.