It is not the quantity of goals Rick Nash has scored, it’s the quality of his chances.
Head coach John Tortorella is not concerned that the power forward entered last night’s match against the Lightning tied with Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, J.T. Miller and Michael Del Zotto for third on the Rangers with two goals. Tortorella pointed to the quality of Nash’s shots and that he leads the Rangers with 39 shots. Nash’s seven points are second-most on the team behind Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, who have nine each.
“Nash only has two goals but we have a pretty comprehensive sheet as far as offensive chances and offensive opportunities. He leads our team in that,” Tortorella said. “I think there’s more finish. There’s more finish to it. But even though he has two goals, he’s been around the puck. He’s been around a lot of our opportunities in the first 10 games."
Neither of Nash’s goals have come on the power play. Among the primary reasons he was acquired from Columbus was to bolster the man advantage units. Nash has five shots in 37:16 of power play time.
According to Tortorella, Nash has passed up on chances while getting used to a new position. The Rangers have Nash stationed along the half boards compared to the down low presence he was in Columbus. Tortorella thinks the additional ice time will give Nash more of an opportunity to use his shot.
“Just watching tape, he has made some passes where we would like him to shoot,” Tortorella said. “He has had some opportunities on top of the circles; he’s trying to make the extra pass.
“Where he has been on the offense, he has been all over the sheets. His game is bringing pucks to the net. That’s a big part of his game. There will be some away from the net. He just shoots the pucks.”
Youth is served
Tortorella has routinely said that he tries to “stay out of the way” of the offensive instincts of young players.
But what about NHL players acquired during an in-season trade such as Darroll Powe? Is there an accelerated teaching process for a player who has played 296 NHL games spanning five seasons with the Flyers and the Wild?
“He’s learning our system. So we’ve done a lot of coaching there,” Tortorella said. “Really with all three of them [Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Powe]. They are three guys who have been infused into our lineup in the past couple games so we’re spending quite a bit of time with them.”
» Dan Girardi returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury. Stu Bickel, Brian Boyle and Steve Eminger were scratched. Tampa scratched LW Ryan Malone and defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brendan Mikkelson.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.