by Patrick Hoffman on 02/28/13 at 10:42 PM ET
Returing from a unpsecified injury after missing the last four games, New York Rangers' forward Rick Nash showed how much of a difference he can make when he is in the lineup.
In the last four games, all losses for the Blueshirts, the team's offense was quite stagnant. There were not enough pucks thrown on net, there was no creativity, there was no movement and there was not enough being done to generate quality scoring chances.
Insert Nash back into the lineup and the Blueshirts become a different hockey club as Nash creates offense in a variety of ways. Tonight in the team's 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nash got open for breakaways, made terrific moves with the puck to generate quality scoring chances, helped set up a goal, scored a highlight goal in the third period and was not afraid to put pucks on net whether it was from the outside, down by the crease or in the slot.
With Nash going hard and doing everything he can to generate offense, the rest of the team seemed to follow suit. In the first period, the Rangers tied a season high with 20 shots while allowing just three.
Then in the second period, the Blueshirts continued to pile on the shots and wound up outshooting the Lightning 15-8. If you are keeping track, the team outshot the Lightning 35-11 through two periods.
The team finished the game with a season high 42 shots on goal. Nash took 12 of those and was the difference tonight for the Rangers.
With the win, the Rangers now have 20 points on the season and still sit one point out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. If the Rangers get some lucky bounces tomorrow night and Saturday, they could be in a great position when they take on a struggling Buffalo Sabres' hockey club at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
Nash was the major difference tonight for his hockey team. Can he ignite his team to play the same way on Sunday night when the Sabres come to town?
We will certain know three nights from now.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.