Rangers

Hartnett: Watching Rick Nash Is Pure, Unadulterated Fun

Leap-Off-Your-Seat Excitement? Nash Brings It Every Game
Rick Nash (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Rick Nash (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Rangers Central
Shop for Rangers Gear
Buy Rangers Tickets

NHL Scoreboard
NHL Standings
Team STATS
Team Schedule
Team Roster
Team Injuries

NEW YORK SPORTS HEADLINES

Get our weekday morning briefs direct from the WFAN newsroom
Sign Up

‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Rick Nash — Is he a skillful 6-foot-4 forward (6-foot-7 in skates) or a powerful locomotive bearing down on a goalie at full speed that can suddenly switch tracks at the last moment?

That’s what Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask must’ve been wondering as Nash quickly changed direction and scored the first goal of the Rangers’ shootout victory. Ryan Callahan would later seal the Blueshirts’ 4-3 win with a nifty wrist shot.

Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards called Nash’s shootout goal perfectly as he sped toward the face-off circle to collect the puck and move in on Rask.

“Rick Nash — with as many moves as Tarzan with 60 yards of rope,” Edwards said as he began his call.

After Nash used his stick strength to shift the puck from post-to-post and beat Rask stick side, Edwards exclaimed, “That’s not fair!  He has such a huge reach.”

NESN analyst Andy Brickley quickly compared Nash’s shootout move to something out of Mario Lemieux’s locker.  Later on the Rangers’ postgame show, MSG analyst and former Lemieux teammate Ron Duguay made the same comparison.

Nash knew exactly what he was doing when he baited Rask and made the Bruins’ elite net-minder look foolish.

“Yeah, it was obviously what I planned,” Nash said when he explained the move to Andrew Gross of The Record. “Coming in with speed, try to sell a move and hopefully he bites — and that time he did.”

As stunning as Nash’s shootout goal was, it wasn’t the most exciting highlight that he created on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

That moment came halfway through the first period when Nash changed direction and was pulled down by Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference.  As Nash fell to the ice, he had the presence of mind to slide the puck to an open Carl Hagelin, who buried the puck in the open net.

After Nash got up, Hagelin skated over to the Rangers’ magician with a look of disbelief in his eyes.

It was somewhat reminiscent of Bobby Orr’s famous gravity-defying goal.  When I say somewhat, I mean on a small scale.  Obviously, it was without the drama and importance of a Stanley Cup series-winning goal, but it did come in the city of Boston that continues to idolize the Bruins’ legendary #4.

The last regular-season goal I remember being this exciting was Alexander Ovechkin’s rookie-season falling goal against the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006.  Funny enough, Wayne Gretzky was behind the bench and saw the goal as an ode to greats that had come before Ovechkin.

“That goal was one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen,” Gretzky told Sports Illustrated.  “Guy LaFleur might have scored a few in the 1970s that were pretty remarkable, and maybe I scored a few nice ones, but not like that.”

For Nash, it wasn’t a goal.  It was an assist, which kind of makes it even more impressive in that it was as impressive as nearly any goal you could name.

Like Ovechkin, Nash wants to entertain you, and he’s finally found the stage he’s desired now that he’s able to pull on the sweater of the Rangers — a team that is in the minds of the national consciousness.

Every time Nash laces up his skates, you’re likely going to see something from him that makes you pick up your jaw after it drops.  He’s just this freakish combination of speed, power, hands and genius.  Sooner rather than later, he’ll be the toast of New York.

Has Nash brought highlight-reel hockey back to New York?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettHockey.