Rick Nash is a goal scorer. A very, very good goal scorer. Over the last seven years (2007-2014) he has the third highest G/60 rate during 5 on 5; only Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin are better. In that time period, he has 135 goals during 5 on 5, which is good for 5th overall. Rick Nash is very good at scoring goals.
Yet, Rick Nash is proving that scoring goals is really hard; even when you’re good at it.
Jared Sexton did an excellent job analyzing Nash’s struggles in the playoffs this year (read it). The key points are as follows: Nash has been incredibly unlucky to have 52 shots on goal and have zero go in the net (duh); If Nash scored 4 goals, which would tie him for the team lead, it will still be less than half of his career 12.4% shooting percentage.
If Nash scored at his career shooting percentage, he would have 7 goals in the playoffs and Rangers fans would be naming their first borns “Rick” regardless of the sex.
Jared did a really good job rejecting the notion that Nash “isn’t trying”. The effort is there. Only the most self-loathing of Rangers fans would argue that Nash isn’t busting his ass (which Rangers fans are arguing about). Nash has the highest CF% rel of Rangers forwards during the playoffs and the most shots. He’s putting himself in position to score. But he isn’t scoring. Bad luck is certainly at play here.
But Nash still deserves a lot of blame. Scoring goals is as much mental as it is physical. Goal scorers can’t get too high nor too low if they want any shot in hell of being consistent. Nash is even keel on the surface. But he’s clearly ‘fighting it'; ‘gripping the stick too tight”; “over thinking it”; <insert your favorite not goal scoring euphemism here>.
Even though Nash has been paid an unfortunate visit from the Chris Higgins Fairy (bad luck), it’s his job as a professional hockey player to fight through it. To adjust. To act as if he is scoring goals. Nash hasn’t done that. The puck not going in the net is clearly at the forefront of his thoughts. He has struggled with it and for that he deserves the heat he’s getting.
There is still hope though. Nash has at least one more series to redeem himself. The Rangers have advanced through two seven games series without him scoring. That’s a huge example of just how deep this team actually is. But it also may help Nash relax. Goal scorers obviously feel pressure to score, but even more so when they think the team will lose if they don’t find the back of the net. Nash has seen his teammates pick up the slack around him. Hopefully that helps him regain his confidence.