THE AK ATTACK by Daniel Akeson, Editor & Publisher
This week…. Vesey and Nash Developing Chemistry
When the New York Rangers signed collegiate standout Jimmy Vesey, they likely foresaw him alongside budding center and fellow-Massachusetts-native Kevin Hayes, perhaps matching game styles with winger J.T. Miller.
A mid-six role predominantly on the third line, with some specialty teams time and a few shifts on the second line or perhaps a game or two off to absorb the game from the stands. It was all part of the process.
Did they imagine him immediately in a Top-Six role developing tremendous chemistry with veteran and newly-anointed Assistant Captain Rick Nash? Doubtful.
In a very short time, the Vesey-Nash combo (with Derek Stepan at center) has developed into a reliable two-way threat, one that is both defensively sound while remaining offensively potent. The youthful energy, exuberance and fearlessness by Vesey seems to have reinvigorated Nash’s game which had become stale, albeit non-detrimental.
Conversely, Nash has been a calming influence to Vesey as he adapts to the professional game. On the bench, you can see Nash communicating and teaching a highly-receptive Vesey. On the ice, they find each other with the type of comfort players find after seasons of playing together, not a handful of games.
Swift puck movement, strong transition through the neutral zone and creative work down low has characterized the early Vesey-Nash tandem and paid dividends for the Rangers.
Statistically, both Vesey (5 goals, 1 assists for 6 points in 9 games) and Nash (4 goals, 3 assists for 7 points in 9 games) are pacing for standout seasons which would exceed even the most optimistic fan’s preseason predictions.
Recently, Vesey said “I think just having the puck in the offensive zone – I’m not really hesitant to make a mistake. Sometimes in the beginning you just try not to make a mistake and play it safe, but I’m holding onto it more I think, and making more plays. I think a lot of that has come from just continuing to develop chemistry with my linemates. They’ve been awesome for me…”
They both “get it.”
Vesey recognizes his role, his age and his place on the team hierarchy. Nash recognizes his veteran leadership role and how he is no longer the player in the spotlight.
Should it continue, it’ll be a special line for the Blueshirts this season.
Far be it for anyone to question the genius that is Goalie Coach Benoit Allaire, but I am a little confused as to when backup Antti Raanta has relieved starter Henrik Lundqvist. While it hasn’t hurt the Rangers yet, it has left many scratching their heads.
Of the nine games the Blueshirts have played so far in this young season, Lundqvist has appeared in seven and Raanta, two.
If the goal is to decrease Lundqvist’s work load into the range of 60 – 65 games played, you would think that back-to-backs and away games would be a priority for Raanta. Thus far, not so much. Stay tuned…
We have been major supporters of Chris Kreider since his draft in 2009. He has shown flashes of brilliance intertwined with moments of mediocrity.
However, his start to this season was exceptional and gave everyone pause that perhaps this would be the season we see the All-Star emerge. Unfortunately, that expectation was tempered by a nagging case of neck spasms.
In the past, it was clear that Kreider’s intellect (he is brighter than most give him credit for) can be both an asset and detriment. Overthinking and being his own worst enemy has, admittedly, at times hampered him.
Can he return to the ice and get right back to his dominant pre-injury performances? Or will it set him back into self doubt?
We’re, cautiously, expecting the best.
OUR FINAL THOUGHT
Thanks for all the positive feedback we’ve received with our 25th Anniversary issue. It was a lot of fun and it was great working with Founder Rick Resnick and former owner Dubi Silverstein again.