Here’s Josh Thomson, 26’s story about Rick Nash and his thoughts heading into the playoffs:
By Josh Thomson
GREENBURGH – When asked whether the playoffs have arrived too soon after the Olympics for players to properly recharge, Rick Nash laughed.
The Rangers’ winger waited most of his career to play on a consistent contender. He isn’t about to take a chance at the Cup for granted.
“Maybe guys who have won it before, but I’m as hungry as ever to get that championship,” said Nash, whose only other postseason experience before coming to New York was a 2009 first-round sweep. “So there’s no problem like that with me.”
Nash has every reason to enter Thursday night’s playoff opener against the Flyers motivated. Not only has he skated in just 16 playoff games in 11 NHL seasons, the 29-year old struggled through a dreadful first postseason in New York, scoring just one goal in 12 games.
“I think everyone should have a chip on their shoulder to perform, to get the job done,” Nash said. “Last year finished off not the way we wanted it to, so I think it’s important to go into the playoffs with that chip on us.”
Even this season Nash’s production fell short of expectations. He scored three fewer points than last season despite playing 21 more games. Still, he led the Rangers with 26 goals and will be counted on to provide offense after that 2013 disappearance.
Nash said those struggles taught him to remain consistent regardless of the results — or, in his case, in the absence of them.
“I don’t have many playoff games under me to take a lot of experiences from,” he said. “The first time it was four. Last time, it was going to Game 5 in the second round. Each time I can kind of take things from it. Last year it was staying with it when things aren’t going right.”
One advantage playing in the Rangers’ favor is goaltending. They learned Wednesday that backup goalie Ray Emery will start Game 1 for the Flyers rather than Nash’s former Columbus teammate Steve Mason, who is injured.
Emery finished the season just 9-12-2 and hasn’t started a postseason game in three years.
“Honestly, for us, it doesn’t really matter if it’s Mason or Emery,” said Derick Brassard, who returned to practice Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s skate with a back injury. “They’re both really good goaltenders. Steve had a really good season, but I think Emery’s a goalie who has shown in the past that he can play in the playoffs.”
Photo by Getty Images.