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Rick Nash could be key for Rangers this season

Rick Nash of the New York Rangers plays

Rick Nash of the New York Rangers plays the puck in the third period against Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 in New York City. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Rick Nash suffered a concussion early in the 2013-14 season, and barely resembled the player who put up 42 points in 44 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign the rest of the way.

Rangers fans would likely have given Nash a break if he had produced at all during his first two postseasons in New York, but he simply didn't.

The owner of 336 career NHL goals managed just three in 25 playoff contests, while former Blueshirt forward Marian Gaborik potted a league-best 14 during the tournament, hoisting the Stanley Cup in front of his former teammates after the Kings completed their Game 5 overtime triumph.

The 30-year-old Nash has impressed throughout the preseason and could be poised for his best season as a Ranger, but it is imperative that he gets off to a hot start to stave off the Garden boo-birds in the early going.

While it's easy to regard Lundqvist as the Rangers' key player each and every year, Nash's potential return to prominence as a lethal scorer could drastically alter the dynamic of this team as it tries to defend its Eastern Conference crown.

Locked in at nearly $8 million per year over the next four seasons, Nash could become a perennial Garden whipping boy, or a late-blooming hero at MSG.

Rangers fans are doubtlessly hoping to witness the latter.

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