JIM: On a night when pretty much everyone in the Rangers lineup found a way to contribute to Monday's 3-1 victory, Rick Nash stood out in my mind as the team's No. 1 star of the game. Nash was forceful with his offensive play, imposing his will all night long against the Kings, often pressuring their defensemen into turnovers and countless mistakes. He led the team with six shots on goal, earned a pair of assists, and just as importantly played a solid game in his own end of the ice where he blocked three shots. A dominant night for a dominant player. My No. 2 star was Brad Richards, who backed up his strong play in the season opener last Thursday by scoring twice on Monday, including the extremely-important first goal of the game. HIs effort on that first goal was impressive, and was in part what Alain Vigneault referred to after the game when he praised Richards for his play in the first two contests. My third star for the Rangers on Monday was Derick Brassard, who did not find his way on to the scoresheet and who had only one shot on goal, but who also made a string of scintillating passes to generate prime scoring chances for his linemates---including a pair for Benoit Pouliot who was left shaking his head after being absolutely robbed twice by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
MATT: Pretty interesting to go with Nash over Richards, Jim. For me, No. 1 is No. 19. He was one of the team's best forwards in Thursday's loss, and last night, he was tops in my book. He told John Giannone on the postgame show how important it is to play with confidence, and through two games, he's looking like a player who is liking his game. He was hard on the puck all night and was making plays — not to mention, he got a bit of puck luck that quite frankly, he wasn't getting a season ago. Also, he's playing a position he hasn't played much outside his days in Tampa Bay and is quickly developing chemistry with linemates Nash and Derek Stepan. No. 2, though, is Rick Nash, who if he had scored a goal, would have been my No. 1 — though two assists is mighty impressive as well. As you said, he was imposing all night and looked like the Rick Nash of last season when he torpedoed his way into the Kings zone. The Rangers need him to start scoring goals, but three assists in two games is a positive as well. My third star was Taylor Pyatt, who left the game early who repairs to his face, but came back and played very well, despite being a minus-1. He was hard on the puck and while he's not the faster skater, used his legs and even forcerd a semi-breakaway early on. He didn't finish with any points but had three shots in 11:54 of ice time. The Rangers lacked production from the bottom-six forwards last season, and if that can turn around, it'd be a big boost.