Rick Nash’s first year as a Ranger concluded with a postseason one-goal fizzle that largely overshadowed a regular season throughout which he was the team’s most imposing forward. “I think what happened in the playoffs easily could have had that effect on people” Nash told The Post following Tuesday’s penultimate practice prior to Thursday night’s opener in Phoenix. “It was what it was but it’s over and done with and I’ve moved on and when that situation arises again I’ll learn from it and produce more. “I thought there were stretches during the regular season where I was at the top of my game My goal is always to improve and try to be better. “I think I have more in me.” Nash who will open on a line with Derek Stepan in the middle and Brad Richards on the left scored a club-leading 21 goals in 42 games last season. He was dangerous one-on-one at times unstoppable driving to the net from his right side off-wing. Somehow Nash drew only nine minor penalties all year despite being consistently hooked and slashed by beaten defensemen after having drawn 37 in 82 games as a Blue Jacket the previous season. He drew 0.8 penalties per 60 minutes as a Ranger following five years in Columbus in which he drew 1.9 1.5 1.4 1.4 and 2.0 respectively. Nash who never seems to lose his cool and almost never challenges officials has no control over penalty calls. He does though have control of his own game. He said on Tuesday he feels more comfortable entering this year than he did 2012-13. “Having a three-week camp in which to get to know the guys is definitely a help” said the 29-year-old who was married over the summer. “There’s a familiarity that was missing last year.” Stepan who centered Nash in 19 regular-season matches and three in the Stanley Cup playoffs will be in a familiar spot centering the Rangers’ presumptive first line. It will be anything but that for Richards who occasionally played wing in Tampa Bay on a line centered by Vincent Lecavalier in the first half of the last decade. “It’s a little foreign to me but at the same time I’m going to be with a pair of talented guys so that will make the transition easier” Richards told The Post. “There’s a lot more movement involved at center at wing you’re isolated a little bit more at times so I’m sure there will be times when I catch myself drifting when I shouldn’t.” Coach Alain Vigneault did not consult Richards before making the move. Vigneault said he wanted to be able to fit his top three centers — Stepan Richards and Derick Brassard — into his top two lines at least until Ryan Callahan joins the lineup which could perhaps be as early as Monday’s Game 2 in Los Angeles.
Nash vows return to regular-season form
New York Post | Oct 2