It's been 42 days since Rick Nash put on a New York Rangers sweater and took the ice for an actual game. After a high hit in a game played at San Jose October 8 gave Nash a concussion, there was a lot of waiting, with little information, and much speculation on the all-star forward's status.
Tonight, Nash finally will crack the Rangers' lineup.
A few speed bumps have really derailed the start of New York's season. The team began the 2013-2014 campaign missing two of its top six forwards in Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin. When Callahan finally returned, he only lasted a few games before breaking his thumb. At that point, Nash was already down with a concussion, and then Henrik Lundqvist missed a few games with an undisclosed injury. Slowly, the Rangers top guys made their returns. Hagelin and Lundqvist were back first, followed by Callahan, but for a while, there was no indication when or even if Nash would make his comeback. But for the first time all season, the Rangers will have "all of their guys" out there together. That's not to say Tuesday night's game should serve as a barometer for where this team is at; if morning skate is any indication of what's to come, Alain Vigneault is still figuring out what line combinations will be most effective, especially coming off two games this weekend in which the team could only muster one goal.
But this is obviously a big step in building toward the team Vigneault was trying to craft during training camp. The Rangers have been starved for goal scoring, and Nash was brought in simply to do that job: score goals. Expect a very warm reception from the (Madison Square) Garden fans tonight, as it will be Nash's first action on home ice.
In other lineup news, Michael Del Zotto will once again be a healthy scratch tonight, along with J.T. Miller, who is sitting to make room for Nash. Vigneault said he likes the "bite" that Justin Falk has brought to the lineup in Del Zotto's place. In what should a physical game against a rugged Boston team, Falk's physical presence may very well be needed tonight. It will mark the third straight game Del Zotto has been scratched, and will surely raise speculation on his future with the club.
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