Rick Nash Isn't What We Thought He Was

Rangers finally have a winning record after Sunday night's win

When the Rangers were engaged in trade talks regarding Rick Nash last season, the great fear was that his offense-first game would upset the blue-collar apple cart that John Tortorella put together. 

That same concern was brought up when the Rangers engaged the Blue Jackets again after the season and it was sounded even louder when the Rangers actually swung the trade before the lockout. It never quite made sense, since the Rangers always seemed to have a surplus of steak and a deficit of sizzle, but it was going to be the criticism if the Nash trade didn't work. 

How funny, then, to look up 11 games into the season and see that the preconceived notions about Nash's game have held up about as well as those notions about the Earth being flat. Nash spent Sunday night's 5-1 cruise over the Lightning adding even more evidence to the increasingly convincing case that no one knew what they were talking about when it came to Nash. 

If you didn't know any better, you might think that Nash was a fourth-liner looking for a permament role while watching him take care of dirty work in the corners and handle his responsibilities in the defensive end in the exact opposite way from a me-first goal scorer. All of that work has made it much easier to accept Nash not lighting the lamp nearly as often as many predicted he would when matched with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik this year. 

Nash scored his third goal of the year on Sunday night, finishing off the Rangers scoring for the evening by scoring on a two-on-one with just a few seconds left in the game. It was a nice shot, but not his most impressive play of the game by a longshot. 

That play came in the first seconds of the match when Nash used quickness and power to get himself into position for a shot that caromed off Carl Hagelin into the net to open up the scoring for the Rangers. It was the blend of talent and effort that we've seen throughout the season from Nash, with the latter assuring that Nash is always making an impact on the game even when he isn't lighting the lamp. 

The last two games have shown the Rangers that people were expecting to see this season. The same kind of responsible play from last season mixed in with more flashes of talent. 

It's hard not to see Nash's influence in games that play out that way and hard not to see things working even more seamlessly once he's a bit more used to his new teammates and surroundings. That would probably happen right around the time to start making a serious playoff push, which would be just about the perfect time for such cohesion to come to pass. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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