50° Good Morning
50° Good Morning

Rangers' Nash, with no goals vs. Caps, needs to break though against Bruins

Rick Nash skates during a team practice at

Rick Nash skates during a team practice at Madison Square Garden Training Center. (May 15, 2013) Credit: James Escher

BOSTON - New series, new beginning for Rick Nash. The Rangers top scoring threat didn't exactly have a Rangers playoff debut to remember, posting no goals and two assists in the seven-game series win over the Caps, but the postseason allows stars like Nash to turn the page and have another crack at star status.

That starts Thursday night in Boston when the Rangers take on the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

And because the Rangers were able to close out the Caps without Nash leading the charge on the score sheet, big No. 61 can feel he's still contributing.

"Everyone asks about all that other stuff, but at the end of the day, as long as we win, that's all that matters," said Nash, who has advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his 10-year NHL career. "I felt I was getting better and better each game. The most important thing is the team. That's all I'm worried about."

Nash did lead the Rangers with 22 shots on goal in the opening round, so he's certainly not lacking for opportunities. He skated at the MSG Training Center Wednesday with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard on the Rangers top line -- Brassard (2-7-9) and Zuccarello (1-4-5) were the top scorers in the opening round -- so Nash is still playing well enough to earn those top-line minutes.

"He played really well in Game 7 and really didn't have many bad games in that series," John Tortorella said. "He didn't finish; he certainly wasn't totally on, but I thought he played really well in Game 7. He's playing and I think he's going to be a really big part of this going into Boston."

There were a couple other regular scorers who struggled in spots in the first round, Brad Richards (one goal, no assists) and Michael Del Zotto (1-1-2) among them.

"I've been through many where different people have to step up at different times," Richards said. "In that series, we had different guys that stepped up and got us through. Gives a chance for everybody else to get behind that. Over the course of time, everybody has to contribute."

To have depth guys scoring key goals, as the Rangers had in Game 7 with Arron Asham and Taylor Pyatt scoring the first two, is what makes the difference between being a team that hopes a star like Nash is about to break out and a team like the Caps, which didn't make up for Alex Ovechkin's low output.

"If we would have lost that series, would have been a little different story around here today, how we feel," Richards said. "You get through and you win as a team. We were lucky enough to get that, probably more than Washington got it, and that's why we won."

New York Sports