Nash problems personify Rangers
NEW YORK — Anger was the prevailing sentiment for the New York Rangers.
Anger at falling behind 3-1 to the Penguins in the best-of-seven second-round playoff series. Anger at an incomprehensibly poor effort in a game that coach Alain Vigneault viewed as New York's most important of the season. And anger that many of the 18,006 in attendance at Madison Square Garden began to treat Rick Nash in much the same fashion as New York Yankees fans reacted to Alex Rodriguez's repeated postseason failings in pinstripes.
“I'd prefer, right now, if our fans were supportive,” Vigneault said after the 4-2 loss Wednesday night. “It might not look it, but we're trying our guts out here. We're trying to put our best game on the ice. We're trying our best. I'd prefer it if we'd have support.
“Ultimately, fans can do what they want.”
So, no, it will not be an especially genial Rangers squad that enters Consol Energy Center for Game 5 Friday night. By any measure, New York has been dominated by the Penguins in the series, having been outscored by an aggregate 11-5 in the first four games, including back-to-back shutouts in Games 2 and 3. Breaking it down further, the Penguins have outscored the Rangers in 5-on-5 play (8-5), on the power play (1-0), shorthanded (1-0) and with an empty-net (1-0).
Until Carl Hagelin scored 5:30 into the second period of Game 4, Marc-Andre Fleury had a shutout streak of 145:30. Over the course of the series, the Rangers have been outshot 113-99 and out-attempted 231-201.
“We didn't give them as much of a test to see where they're at,” Brad Richards said of a team one loss away from elimination.
The lack of tangible results prompted Rangers fans to boo Nash in the third period Wednesday night. The Rangers acquired Nash in a franchise-altering trade from Columbus on July 23, 2012, for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round draft pick that the Blue Jackets used on left wing Kerby Rychel.
Nash has not scored a goal in the 2014 playoffs despite leading the league with 45 shots on goal.
In the Game 4 loss, Nash made two glaring mistakes, misfiring on a 3-on-1 attempt, putting a shot into the protective netting, and committed an egregious neutral zone turnover which directly led Brandon Sutter's short-handed goal.
Afterward, following a closed-door team meeting, the Rangers collectively defended Nash.
“We're not the 15th team in the league,” Richards said. “We're in the second round of the playoffs. I understand sports and where it's all at. So does he. So does everybody in here. But it's not one person. It's the whole team. As a team we didn't play tonight. For one guy or two guys to get booed, or whatever it is, it's frustrating (for) the team. We all put our foot (in it) together.”
In 23 playoff games as a Ranger, Nash has one goal and eight assists. In 27 playoff games in his career, he has two goals and 10 assists.
Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought
- Penguins’ Scuderi offers honest assessment of his 2013-14 performance
- Penguins coach says team needs to ‘lessen the load’ on Crosby