Our resident Rangers homer, Beth Boyle Machlan, wangled a chance to talk to first-line winger Rick Nash at the launch of Playmobil’s NHL Original Six line. Last year, Nash came in third in the league in regular-season goals scored, but only seventeenth in the playoffs, even though his team made it to Game 7 of the ECF. That gap is clearly on his mind as he contemplates the start of his fourth year with a team that has only one goal: the Stanley Cup. With his year-old son McLaren clambering up the Playmobil Zamboni behind him, Nash chatted about the power play and the pressure of being a Ranger.
You scored a ton of goals with a newborn. How did you do that?
Yeah, he might have been my good luck charm. (Laughs.) Everything went in last year. I don’t know if I could, I’ll try to do it again. It was just one of those seasons when everything went in. It was a great year for the Rangers, we never lost two in a row ever, we won the best team in the league, it was just a fun year to be part of, not only in hockey. To be a dad for the first time was the best part of it, trumps all of it.
So, speaking of new kids, who did you enjoy playing with this preseason?
Stalberg looked really good in training camp. Jarret Stoll is going to be a huge addition for our penalty kill, for face-offs, and I was surprised at the new goalie, Raanta. He looked really good.
You brought up penalties and face-offs, two things people sometimes mention as weak points for the Rangers. What do you think about those elements, going into the new year?
You’ve got to think going into this year, having Yandle here full time, having Boyle, those are the two best defensemen for the power plays in the league. And you look around and we’ve got a lot of skill, with Zuccarello, with Stepan, Miller and Kreider … we have the personnel, and Scott O’Neill always does a great job with the power play. So it’s just a matter of us putting the system to work and listening to Scott.
AV came down a little hard on JT Miller last night; he had a great goal but also gave up a couple of turnovers. How is he looking to you?
He’s got all the tools to be a top player in this league. He’s got the skills, he’s got the shot, he’s got the skating. I think he just needs to put it all together and be consistent and know, believe in himself that he’s a full-time NHLer, and he can be a star in this league.
You guys have done so well for the past few years, but New York fans aren’t going to be satisfied with anything less than a Cup. Do you ever wish you played somewhere with a little less pressure?
I feel like that’s the reason why I wanted to come to the NY Rangers, is that pressure. Where I’m from in Canada, that’s the only thing that matters is the championship. When I play for the international team, the gold medal is the only thing that’s acceptable. And that’s how I feel like it is in New York, and I love the pressure.