NEW YORK -- Rick Nash admits he doesn't have any distinct memories from his lone experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was a brief appearance in 2009, one that saw his Columbus Blue Jackets swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Nash had a goal and two assists in the series, which started with three games in which the Red Wings outscored the Blue Jackets 12-2.
"It was quick," the five-time all-star said after the New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-0 Saturday to clinch the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round date with the Washington Capitals.
Following the regular-season finale, in which he scored twice, Nash said he was eager to get back to the playoffs. In his quest to earn the first postseason win of his career, the power forward did his part to put the Rangers in a position to make a playoff run. After being acquired from Columbus in July, Nash led the Rangers this season with 21 goals in 44 games. In the four games he missed due to injury, New York went 0-3-1.
After closing the regular season with seven points in his final six games, Nash is ready to make an extended run under the bright lights of New York City.
"That's what I signed up for. That's what it's all about. There is not a bigger stage," Nash said. "I think great athletes love the pressure. You look at guys around the League, when a lot of pressure is on them, they produce at even a better rate. I'm sure most of the guys in this room understand what it's like to play in the playoffs here. I'll find out fast."
Despite going without a playoff victory in his nine seasons in Columbus, Nash has shown the ability to perform on a big stage. The No. 1 pick of the 2002 NHL Draft boasts an Olympic gold medal and World Championship gold on his resume. But he is missing a Stanley Cup victory. On a Rangers team that finished the regular season on a 7-2-0 run, Nash may have his best chance to accomplish that feat.
"It's great. This is what you want to play in as a professional athlete -- playoff games, big games," Nash said. "We're there now, so we have to make sure we're ready to produce."