When the Rangers face off with the Ducks tonight at the Honda Center they will have to do so without their top offensive threat. Rick Nash returned to New York on the team's off day in Anaheim on Wednesday, one day after being elbowed in the head by San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart in Tuesday's 9-2 loss to the Sharks. No other update on Nash's condition was available this morning.
Nash was dazed after being elbowed by Stuart less than three minutes into Tuesday's action, but he finished out the first period, playing a total of 5:53. However Nash explained after the game that he progressively felt worse, and had a headache, so he did not play after the first period. He traveled with the team to Anaheim before returning to New York.
"It's not ideal, that's for sure," alternate captain Brad Richards said of Nash's absence from the lineup. "We want him back and we need him, but we don't have him, so people have to step up. We can't dwell on it, and we hope he is back as soon as possible obviously. It looked like he was just getting his game together there against LA, he was pretty dominant. So we want him back ASAP."
Nash had a pair of assists and led the Rangers with six shots on goal in Monday's 3-1 victory over the Kings. In three games this season he had tallied three assists.
A seven-time 30+-goal scorer, Nash potted a team-high 21 in 44 games with the Blueshirts a year ago. His 42 points were second on the team behind Derek Stepan's 44, and he also produced three game-winning goals and a career-best +16 plus/minus rating.
"It's a huge loss, Rick Nash is Rick Nash, everyone knows who he is and what he's capable of," Benoit Pouliot said following Thursday's morning skate at the Honda Center. "He's a superstar in this league, so when you lose one of your big boys like that everyone has to step up."
Nash missed four games last season after being on the receiving end of a questionable hit from Boston's Milan Lucic. There was no timetable announced for his return from this injury, though he will definitely not play tonight or Saturday in St. Louis.
Stuart was suspended three games by the National Hockey League yesterday for his illegal hit on Nash.