Before the New York Rangers even took the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday night at Madison Square Garden, I already knew what the topic of my article would be: the reuniting of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello.
That’s right, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t happy with how his team was winning, albeit they were winning, and decided to make a very, very smart move.
This is a move I have been waiting for. With Nash’s inability to score (he has recorded one goal in 11 games), he needs to be surrounded by the playmakers, by the guys that can make their teammates look good.
And that is exactly what Zuccarello and Brassard do. Both are incredible passers whose ability to read a play and anticipate their teammates’ actions are what have helped the Rangers make deep playoff runs in recent years. The also have this undeniable chemistry; Zuccarello and Brassard just click. And Nash fits in seamlessly with them.
How could you not love this line? It’s got everything; speed, size, finesse. All it needs is to produce goals—and it will.
The effect of putting the trio back together wasn’t immediate. And by that I mean the reunion didn’t fix all of Nash’s scoring woes. But the line was extremely effective in dismantling and further demoralizing the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs.
Brassard, Nash and Zuccarello each ended the night with three points apiece, with Zuccarello scoring a hat trick in the Rangers’ 3-1 win over the Leafs.
“They were our best players tonight,” said Vigneault of the trio.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. The Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello line began dominating its opponents nearly the moment the puck hit the ice in the first period. The line was noticeable, generating chance and keeping the Garden’s audience enthralled enough to forget about checking the score of the World Series that was taking place a borough away.
Putting these three back together is the right move.
I do understand why coaches juggle lines, but I have always felt, since I first saw what they can do together, that this one should not be tampered with. To me, it just makes sense to have this line combination.
They may or may not stay together all season. The likely scenario is that lines will be shuffled multiple times in order to boost offensive production or get a slumping player going.
But if Vigneault is given the opportunity to keep these three together for a majority of the season then I say the Rangers are going to find themselves sitting pretty when April rolls around.