Rick Nash is balancing past and present

 

             So, we're wrapping up for the day here soon in Columbus, and may swing by Woodlands Tavern tonight to catch some of the sets by Joe Rollin Porter, a fine-pickin' guitarist of some reknown and Big Daddy Love, an Americana-styled band from North Carolina. I'm sure you can sample both on You Tube.             

           Then back at it in the AM, when both the Jackets, who play tonight in Montreal, and the Rangers, will have optional skates.

           As expected, Rick Nash was the center of attention at practice today, and to some extent, Derick Brassard and John Moore and Derek Dorsett. But Nash, the franchise's leading scorer, who hasn't played here since the July 2012 trade, drew media like metal filings to a magnet.

           There are plans for a video tribute to his decade here during the first period Friday, but he said that even if there isn't, he'll still have all the memories in his head.

             Homecomings in sports are different for everyone, and in this case, Nash didn’t stay in his house nearby, he said, but “at a hotel, just like a regular road trip” trying to balance the past and present.

           “I’ll have a lot of family and friends here, so I know they’ll be cheering; Nash said after practice at Nationwide Arena. “As for all the other fans, I’m not sure what to expect. If I get cheers, great; if I get boos, which I’m sure there will be, I’ll move on from that.”

            Nash, who was sidelined with a concussion when the Rangers won here 4-2 on Nov. 7, said returning and seeing familiar faces, like those of security guards, was “tough to describe…a lot of friends made,” and was pleased by his former team being on the cusp of a post-season berth.

          “Four playoff games in 10 years, it was a tough go,” he said of his Blue Jackets tenure, which ended somewhat acrimoniously with his July 2012 trade. “So I’m happy for the fans, I’m happy for ownership…it’s good to see them succeed. But at the end of the day, I’m worried about our team; I’m not worried about what they’re doing, or what Philly’s doing, or Washington; I’m worried about what we have to do for the remainder of the season.”

            With 12 games left, the Rangers (37-29-4) are in a playoff spot, but must capitalize on scoring chances and cannot simply rely on quality goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist. “You need to make other teams pay for their mistakes,” head coach Alain Vigneault said. “I’m hoping those eight goals (against Ottawa Tuesday) is going to help start a couple of our offensive guys. Nasher came up real big for us.”

          Nash, who has 22 goals in 53 games, scored twice in the 8-4 victory---a shorthander and an empty-netter---for his fourth multi-goal game this season.

            “I want to get streaky,” said Nash, who has scored 20 or more goals in 10 straight seasons. “But I’ve always said if I can’t be scoring, I want to help the team the other way; the two points are the most important thing with the position we’re in and the amount of games left.”

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