Philly Sports Live

What We Learned: Why is Rick Nash so bad in the playoffs? (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)   Each year, the New York Rangers make the playoffs. Each year, Rick Nash is criticized for not producing. This kind of thing is common in hockey, of course. Sidney Crosby has faced it. Alex Ovechkin has faced it. If you put up a lot of points in the regular season and then not-a-lot in the playoffs, especially if your team is unceremoniously bounced, then you get called out. No one would ever mistake Nash for a player of Crosby’s or Ovechkin’s level; he’s long been an All-Star but never has he been in the conversation for “best in the world.”  But as far as Rangers go, he’s certainly the best they’ve got up front. He averages 0.47 goals per game over his career on Broadway, and he’s pushing 400 in the regular season since he broke into the league in 2002. Not world-beating, but always respectable, and when he’s got actual talent around him —which he does to some extent with the Rangers —he can produce. He has eight 30-goal performances out of his 11 full seasons. The playoffs have been a different story, as everyone has learned time and again when watching pregame, between-periods, and postgame chats on the Rangers’difficulties putting the puck into the net in each of the last three postseasons (during which time they’ve always advanced at least to the second round). Nash has 50 playoff games in New York. He also has just six goals, or 0.12 per game. It’s a major problem. But the question, then, is whether this is just another Ovechkin/Crosby/Stamkos run of bad luck; that is to say: Those players basically play at the same level and have suffered playoff difficulties because of hot goalies, bad luck, and maybe a few undisclosed injuries, so does Nash fall into the same boat? And if you look at his even-strength performances in both the regular- and postseason in his career —Nash has only made it four times due to having languished in Columbus so long —you see the drop-off at 5-on-5 is about as stark as can be. (These numbers include only the first two rounds this year, and worse performances are indicated in red, better in green.)