Considering how sluggish and disorganized the Bruins looked for much of Sunday’s 4-1 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres, you could argue that their best player on the ice was the newly acquired Rick Nash. While the veteran winger didn’t light the world on fire – nobody did – he played a decent game and flashed some of the reasons why the Bruins got him.
Nash led the Bruins with five shots on goal, and very nearly potted his first as a Bruin in the second period when he fired a David Krejci drop-pass off the post. There should be many more of those opportunities going forward, and Nash is likely to finish more of them than Ryan Spooner could have.
He also created his own scoring chance when he won a puck battle behind the net and made an unsuccessful wrap-around attempt. Nash frequently showed why the Bruins coveted his size and power; he’s strong on the puck and can create his own space for Krejci and others to set him up.
Nash has yet to get a real practice in with his new team. And he won’t before Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden, either. But the Bruins’ big trade deadline acquisition feels he and new linemates, Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, are already getting comfortable with each other.
“I felt pretty good and I felt like my linemates, we kind of clicked, and we spent a lot of time in their zone and hung on to pucks down low,” Nash told reporters after the game.
Recapping Nash’s Night
It appears that, for now, Nash will have different linemates on the power play. He played on the top unit with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Torey Krug. The group generated five shot attempts in three total minutes together, according to data at Natural Stat Trick. Nash had one of their only scoring chances on the man advantage, which was categorized as a “high-danger” chance.
Defensively, Nash was on the ice for just one of the Sabres’ four goals, during a penalty kill. He aggressively tried and failed to knock the puck out of the zone and momentarily lost his position against Victor Antipin. The Sabres defenseman then fired a shot that bounced to Benoit Pouliot, who tapped an easy rebound into the back of the net.
But all in all, not a bad debut for Nash. He’s low on the list of reasons why the Bruins laid an egg in Buffalo. Hopefully, he continues to generate similar scoring chances and cashes in on them down the stretch. Then we’ll see what he’s got in the playoffs, where he’s dropped off in the past.
Fortunately for Nash, he won’t need to be the lead dog in the postseason. So perhaps that will help him play to his full capabilities.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.