BOSTON — Rick Nash was acquired by the Boston Bruins to score goals, provide a physical presence and wreak havoc in front of the net, and he’s done all of those things and more through the first two games of the B’s first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nash drew two penalties in Game 1, one of which led to a goal in Boston’s series-opening win on Thursday night. He made an even stronger impact in the Bruins’ 7-3 Game 2 victory Saturday night, scoring his first playoff goal as a member of the B’s and making life difficult for Leafs defensemen around the crease.
“His impact has been tremendous, right from last game, from the first shift on,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said of Nash.
“His speed is obviously something they have to be aware of — it kind of makes their defensemen aware and he has that chemistry with David (Krejci) and Jake (DeBrusk) and it’s been a very good line for us. So, you’re right, his impact has been great.”
Nash has been a welcome addition to a Bruins power play that already was highly skilled before the trade to acquire him. In Game 2, he found himself in front of the net, as usual, during a first-period power play, and he won a puck battle that resulted in Boston’s fourth goal — chasing Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen from the net.
Nash’s performance is even more impressive when you consider that he missed almost a month with a concussion to end the regular season. He admitted after Game 1 that there was some rust to shake off, but he looks to be fully up to speed with 32:25 of ice time under his belt through two playoff games.
“It’s a new playoff for me, just trying to take it as it comes,” Nash said. “I’ve had three and a half weeks off so it’s been a bit of a battle for me, trying to get my speed up. When you win it seems like everything goes right.”
The next challenge for Nash will be maintaining his current level of play in Toronto — his home, and the scene of the next two games in this series.
“It’ll be fun,” he said. “I grew up in a suburb and I grew up a diehard Leafs fan so it’s always fun to go back home and play there and play against them with all your family and friends there.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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