Larry Brooks at the New York Post feels that Rick Nash's return will likely lead to the top line being broken up and Mats Zuccarello being bumped out of the top six forwards...
"Nash’s insertion into the lineup will have a trickle-down effect on the team’s combinations and eventually allow Vigneault to get into more of a four-line rotation than he has employed thus far. Nash will either skate with Hagelin and Brad Richards while Callahan shifts to the right with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan, or Nash himself will play with Kreider and Stepan."
Brooks adds that Nash could be back as early as next Tuesday against the Bruins, but more likely either next Thursday in Dallas or a week from Saturday, Nov. 23, in Nashville.
...listen, I get that Nash has to be in the top six when he comes back, but I'm sorry, you can't break that Stepan line up right now. The team and that trio is playing too well to mess with that chemistry. Zuccarello has been one of the team's best players this month and dropping him would be beyond foolish in my opinion.
...i'd rather it be Hagelin who's bumped down to the third line for now, with Nash playing along side Richards and Callahan. Especially since the Swedish forward's game has slipped a bit lately after such a hot start upon returning from shoulder surgery.
...as far as Nash's return, I think the Rangers would be wise having him skip the Bruins, who will be looking to punish him any chance they get.
these would be my lines..... and the reasons why
1: Richards- Brassard-Nash OR Cally - Brassard - Nash
2: Zucc- Step- Kreider
3:Hags-Miller-Cally OR Hags- Richards - Miller
Pouliout experiment has run its course and it is a done deal......
D Moore is a shell of what he use to be and is not effective we all know his story but I am about winning a title and a pity party cant hold a spot on my team.....
You keep Miller in Kid has upside... and chemistry with Kreider on power play as an option...he skates and plays hard and the upside is there
Mashinter plays due to our lack of toughness and a heavyweight.... Dorsett is a middle weight he has the heart just not the size.... I cant see Kreider or Nash dropping the gloves to defend Stepan again.... Either Stepan Grows a pair of ballsor I would seriously consider shipping him out with DeZerro for Evander Kane
all four lines can generate there own chances and you have the talent to mix and match but never loose anything when you do
I would sit Nash till after next 3 Games they are very physical teams... and makes no sense just coming back.... to play him especially if your not dressing Mashinter to protect him
Kevin, I know exactly where you're coming from. I know you read the comments so you know I've been pretty much Zucc's biggest supporter last year against a sea of criticism citing his unworldly play making skills, heart, leadership, guile and cunning which keeps him out of trouble in the corners, negating his size differential etc etc. and it's so gratifying watching it all unfold before our very eyes. Also I'm one of the 1st ones to talk about the importance and intangibility of chemistry and yes, if it ain't broke don't fix it. I get that. But I have to say though I'm absolutely drooling at the thought of a Kreid-Step-Nash line. Right now, though that DMC line is clicking you've got 2 playmakers and a beast but no finishers. Yes Step can score and its arguable Kreids will develop into a 30+ goal guy but imagine a pure goal scorer on the right flank of a playmaking D first Centerman and a speedy beast of a man reeking havoc and opening up ice space. That Nash Kreid connection in the Boston series was a thing of beauty which I see as a sign of chemistry between them (Also demonstrating that Nash's passing skills are not too shabby either) Call it a feeling ( which have been about 90% right since I've joined this board btw) but that line will be awesome if given a chance, and if it doesn't work the run DMC line can always be reunited. It's early. Zucc will work hard, continue to lead teammates to open ice and unload those tape to tape beauties no matter who he's with and contrary to popular belief does not need a big player to open space for him. He does that all by himself and is hard to hit. In other words he's not just good with Step and Kreids. He's good period. Since Richey's finding net maybe he'd benefit from having the killer Hobbit from hell's laser beam passes. Just my thoughts.
Doesn't matter. Either way, our top 3 lines should all be able to generate offense. If Richards, Kreider and Zucc can keep their play at this level and if Brass can get it going a little bit, we are in good shape.
Kevin, you are 100% correct. I agree with you totally. You just don't Zucc from the top 6 he is the spark plug of the team right now.
Still think Cally would be a fantastic third line player. One of our best two way forwards matching up against the other teams top lines!
To me Pouliot is the guy who gets benched moving forward when Nash is back. I also think Callahan would give us a stronger third line than if we put Zucc there....but I know he played with Brassard before and did OK...maybe he gets Brassard going.
Anyone but Pyatt-Moore-Dorsett
Whoa - peeps need to relax a bit. (even excitable hockey fans)
first off - why hate on Brooks for stating his opinion - isn't that what all of us do here? You kidz might not remember the time before the interwebs but Brooks has been keeping hockey in the sports pages interesting for a long time. The Post was always the best hockey coverage - the Daily News and Newsday never gave it as much attention. Anyway...
We're 18 games into the season with a 9-9 record. Nothing is written in stone. Line ups change constantly and will continue to over the whole season. Let's see what they do. Nash can be a goal scoring stud. He has got to get back into the line up and help bury some of these chances that other Rangers forwards miss. I am concerned that he will be vulnerable to another concussion after one big hit - scary. The best place for him won't be known until AV gets him out there. Let's wait and see instead of knee jerk negative reactions.
Yes we've played better recently. Yes he's made some great passes, but can we hold off on putting Zucc in the hall of fame just yet? If he's as amazing as everyone seems to think here then he'll be fine on any of the top 3 lines. Also - why would Boyle play wing....do we not need him more for his centering/faceoff role?
I'd play Nash with Brassard on the third line, but hes gotta play top 6 minutes a night which he will get with power play time. Nash is the most talented offensive player they have hes gotta play major minutes. I would like to see the rangers trade for Moulson and make a line of Brassard Nash and Moulson to go with the other 2 top lines. No more dominic moore and pyatt they need to be upgraded
Nash should start on the third line.He just had a concussion and should work his way cautiously even if he's 100 percent healthy.Also he still has to get into condition.
the only line i could see being broken up is the Cally, Richards, Hags line like you said Kevin. Larry Brooks is a joke which is why he works for the Post. Great idea Larry, replace a player averaging a point/game with a guy coming off a serious head injury who wasn't producing that much before he was hurt. If nash is down w/ it, throw on the 3rd line w/ Brassard and JT Miller (if he is still around) or Pouliot. Brassards play making prowess and Miller's speed would open things up for Nash.
Over the last 5 games the steps kreids zucc line has 2 goals, the richards cally hags line has 5 goals, and the D has 5 goals. A lot of that top lines goal production has been coming from the D which, in my opinion, isn't something to rely on. Step has amazing vision but whiffs as much as Richie and Del Zotto, and Kreids and Zucc have 3 goals combined on the season. Obviously they are playing well, and are moving the puck as well as any top line in the league, but they need a finisher. Its great to generate a lot of chances, but finishing those chances will make that top line lethal.
ITA with you Kevin. No way AV Should break up Stepan's line. Been one of the few bright spots this season besides the emergence of Kreider who is so much fun to watch.
Again, camp of one here, but I can't stand the way Nash plays. While he is a fast North-South skater he is NOT quick. While he has one good power move to the net when he has a head of steam and a step on the defenseman he too often coasts when that is not available. He has a great shot, but is rarely integral in keeping the play in the O-zone with quick passes, or board work. So what you see is basically 2 players working their asses of to feed Nash, when it should be 3 players working their asses off to get it to whoever is open - the later being what you are seeing in Nash's absence. There is no denying that he has shooting skills that the NYR could use, but they come at the price of those drawbacks that overall I BELIEVE make it a net loss. Put Nash on the third line until he learns to be a more complete player. Start the bashing......NOW! lol
It's a good thing Larry Brooks isn't the coach and remains the speculative reporter. Logically, you don't break up your BEST line just because you have what is defined as a TOP 6 forward coming back. I'd also argue that breaking up Richards, Callahan, and Hagelin is a bad idea.
The most logical solution to this good problem is put Nash with Brassard (a talented center who could benefit from a scoring winger) and put the two of em with Boyle (or Pouliot, etc.). If that worked you would have THREE top 6 type lines and it would make them incredibly difficult to defend because opposing teams couldn't zero in their top pair on any one line.
Put my boy Zucc anywhere. He'll serve up gems from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th line. DON'T MATTER.
The difference is, do you want to waste those beauty passes on Dorsett?
Maybe... Just maybe... put Zucc with Nasher. NOW WE'RE TALKIN!
I believe we should let Nash come back and find his game before throwing him out there against other teams best. With that in mind, I believe he should be on the third line!!! There is no shame in this...it allows him to play against lesser competition and find his legs and his confidence. He can always be moved up as progress is made. Putting him out there any other way is just asking for trouble for all concerned.
OK, let's all be honest with ourselves here. The catalyst for that top line has been Chris Kreider, not Zuccs. Kreider has been an absolute beast. So here you have a perennial 30+ goal scorer coming into the line-up and he should star out on the 3rd line to get a 3rd line center "going"? Sorry, he NEEDS to be on a line with Stepan and Kreider so they can get Nash going. Nash and Step were incredible last year and there were near riots when Torts broke them up. Now you add Kreider into that mix and it has the potential to be absolutely lethal. Zucc showed chemistry with Brassard and Pouliot early in the season so that's got a better shot of getting that line going than sticking Nash or Hags there. Here's what I say, assuming Miller and Mash are sent down:
Kreider - Stepan - Nash
Hagelin - Richards - Callahan
Pouliot - Brassard - Zuccs
Boyle - Moore - Dorsett
Here are the lines I'm hoping for the first game Nash comes back:
Kreids - Step - Zucc
Hags - Brass - Nash
Miller - Richie - Cally
*** - Boyler - Dorsett
*** = ANYONE BUT POULIOT
@Betweentheworlds That's fair. I don't have a problem with AV eventually splitting up that line, but not when they're this hot. Who knows, maybe they'll be cooled off by the time Nash is ready to come back.
@AveryYesBettmanNoAre we ready to put Zuccarello in the Hall yet? No. But now that they guy has finally gotten a chance to play with top 6 linemates, with significant minuets while producing why take him out of that rotation?
@KreiderisTheChosenOne Don't tease me.
@Say my Name Like your comments.....keep them coming. You have a "big Picture" understanding of the game and how it should be played.
Nash is who he is and probably does not have the courage to become the Complete player we all would like him to be. The negative patterns of playing that you point out are so ingrained in his thinking that I don't think he will willfully choose to change them.......same situation as Gaborik......same situation as Gartner and Amonte years ago.That is why teams continually traded them away.
On the other hand notice the changes that Zuc and Krieder have made simply because they want to. (all an act of the will.....you do it or you don't!)
For a great act of the will you can go back to Hall of Famer Stan Mikita leading the NHL in penalty minutes one year and then winning The Lady Byng trophy the next year.....an act of the will driven by him not wanting his daughter to be embarrassed by his "dirty" play."
@Say my Name The advantage of Nash is that he's magical when he has space and it takes more than one defender to deny him that space. So, while I won't disagree with the board work (and positional) assessment, I will disagree that he's not integral to establishing o-zone pressure. He forces the defense to orient to him which allows other players to use their own gifts more freely.
@jasonshyer Well said. Lines are about settling on an approach that works, not about some scalar value of player quality. No way you break up Kreider/Step/Zucc right now. There's no rule that says a (arbitrary) 3rd line (with Nash on it, say) can't play more than the (arbitrary) 2nd line if they are more effective in a given game/period/whathaveyou.
@gravey94 Gravey you are one of the consistent voices of reason on this blog but I respectfully disagree. Nash tends to score no matter who is his center. I'd love to see him with Brassard and see if he can get the best out of his longtime teammate. Plus easing him back into the lineup in a slightly "lower pressure" slot isn't a horrible thing either. So I'd go here:
Kreider - Step - Zucc
Hags - Richards - Cally
Boyle/Pouliot - Brass - Nash
Boyle/Pouliot - Moore - Dorsett
To be clear - calling that Brassard line the "3rd line" is a technicality if Brass gets to where he was last season with the team. If they have 3 top 2 lines it makes them incredibly difficult to defend and very hard to play against.
@gravey94 took the words right out of my mouth.
I completely forgot that when D. Moore comes back both he and Boyle will be playing center in the bottom 6 (our two best face-off guys)... so Richards will probably slide back to wing.
That first line is just my personal preference... I mean Kreider and Nash is what we have had dreams about... now that we can get it together... I WANT IT AND I WANT IT NOW!!!! haha
In all likelihood, Miller will be replaced by Pouliot. But those lines are what I want to see. Also, interchange Richie and Brass however you'd like.
It's a tough call but you're probably right about not breaking them up if they're going to tear it up game after game. Also Nash should get a couple games to get his legs before they even think about inserting him with Step.
@Beckfan5 @AveryYesBettmanNo Nash is the number one forward on this team. He and Lundqvist are the franchise players. period. Will Nash play like that now that he's had 2 concussions...who knows? He's got to be given the chance. That's why he's here. However, that wasn't my point. My point was it's still early enough to tinker with the lineups. It's not a punishment for Zucc or any other forward to be moved around. it might help to better balance the team in the long run. Wait and see.
I addressed that a lot of that lines goal production is coming from the D, obviously meaning that line is setting them up. My point is you're top line shouldn't rely on the D for goals, they need to be able to finish themselves, which I believe you will get from Nash.
@EHBIGAPPLE @Say my Name I kind of agree with you both; Nash is limited in certain ways. He's doesn't have the board/forecheck brilliance of a Hagelin, or the intelligence and perseverance of a Callahan, or the insanely quick decision making ability of the new Zuccarello, but he is a force that has to be opposed or the D will get overwhelmed.
He's still very much a solo player (despite being an excellent passer from the half-wall), but I disagree that he "needs" to be set up, like Gaborik and (to a lesser degree) Gartner. He doesn't need that as much as he needs people to cover for his weaknesses so he can play without fetters.
I'm talking myself into suggesting he should play with Hagelin and, perhaps, Boyle (?) or Brassard(?).
Why tinker with the lines now when they've been successful? Nash is the type of goal scorer, like Jagr and Gaborik, that doesn't need a playmaking center. If they ease him back into the lineup on Brassard's line I think he will do just fine w/o breaking up the top two lines.
@Say my Name @Hotfreak @EHBIGAPPLE Kudos to you for bring this up. I totally agree with your "impact" assessment. We often hear that so and so is an impact player. Most of the time we rightly assume it is a positive impact and the positives are only emphasized.
Unfortunately "big name" players can also bring a negative impact to their line or worse to the entire team. We rarely talk publicly about the negative impact that a player like Nash, Gaborik and last year's edition of Richards brought to the team. Those that negatively impact their team are those players that suck or draw energy from their teammates, rather than raising the energy levels of the players around them........Pouliot is having a negative impact on his line (which is why he has already played for 5 different teams.) Krieder, Zuc and Hagelin and of course Cally, on the other hand raise the energy level of play of their teammates.
Hockey as in life you are either giving off positive confident inspiring energy or you are giving off negative, victim like poor me energy and the choice (act of the will) is always ours to make.
Hotfreak, I do agree that his skill set by itself does force the other team into a def scheme that does produce opportunities. The one other thing I would add though is even more nuanced, but nonetheless noticeable. It seems that Nash's deficiencies as a player somehow seem to carry over into the energy/impact/quickness/hustle/grind levels of the entire team, more than seems rightly possible given that he is just one player. At least I notice it. In groups, sometimes this sort of "falling in line" behind happens and one person can affect the tenor of the whole. Do either of you notice that as well?