VIDEO: Rangers' Nash finally scores his first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs

May 17, 3:34 PM

It took Rick Nash 15 games and 54 shots, but he finally scored his first goal of the playoffs.

The Rangers forward got off the schneid at long last on Saturday afternoon, scoring New York's seventh(!) goal of the game on Canadiens backup Peter Budaj in the third period of Game 1. It wasn't a particularly high-leverage tally:

[Courtesy NHL.com]

The Stanley Cup playoffs: history will be made.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Charles LeClaire

May 16, 3:12 PM

Alain Vigneault on Rick Nash's playoff struggles: 'He's our top player'

May 16, 3:12 PM

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash was acquired in the summer of 2012 to provide a team that had struggled to score in the postseason with some offensive punch. Though the Rangers have advanced to the Eastern Conference final, which begins on Saturday in Montreal, Nash hasn't exactly lived up to his reputation as dynamic offensive force in the postseason so far.

Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault isn't concerned, however, with Nash's lack of production. When asked about his struggling winger, Vigneault suggested that Nash has been the Rangers' "top player" in the postseason based on the team's in-house tracking of scoring chances for and against.

While Nash has proved unable to find twine through 14 playoff games so far, it's worth noting that the Rangers have outscored their opponents with him on the ice at five-on-five. It's also not as if Nash has been demoted down the lineup - he's still logging first-line minutes at even-strength, leading all forwards on the team in shot attempt differential, and is tasked with playing the opposition's best players, controlling play, and wearing them down physically. 

It's also probably worth noting that Nash is seventh among Rangers forward in power-play ice-time this postseason, and is taking a regular penalty-killing shift. In short, Nash isn't actually being used or counted on by Vigneault to be a "top-scorer." Instead he's expected to be a two-way ace, and on that front he's been full value.

While Nash is aware that more is expected of him, he seems to have a good perspective on his playoff performance so far. "It’s a bigger picture than me struggling," the Rangers forward told reporters on Friday. "This is about a team trying to win a championship."

When asked if he was "due" for a goal, Nash landed a solid rejoinder: "overdue," he replied

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Adam Hunger