The New-Look Riley Nash: New Linemates, New Confidence, Improved Play

By Jacob Nitzberg on March 15, 2019 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets center Riley Nash (20) against the San Jose Sharks at Nationwide Arena.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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For the vast majority of the year, Riley Nash hasn't looked comfortable on the ice.

That changed Tuesday night against his old club, the Boston Bruins. In Nash's time with Boston, he was a reliable 2nd or 3rd line center, depending on what was needed from him. During his time in Columbus thus far, he has been buried on the fourth line, condemned to play with a cast of ever-rotating linemates. 

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella made the decision on Tuesday to bump Nash up a line and have him play with Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner on the third line. Nash filled Josh Anderson's typical spot on that line, as Anderson moved up one line to form the daunting "D.A.D. Line", which combined for 3-5-8 against the Bruins and is comprised of Matt Duchene, Anderson, and Ryan Dzingel.

As a result of all the shuffling, Oliver Bjorkstrand moved down to the fourth line with Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky.

The "D.A.D." line looked great on Tuesday night, but so did the Foligno-Jenner-Nash line, as Jenner notched his first NHL hat trick and 100th goal for the Blue Jackets.

On Jenner's second goal, Nash provided the primary assist, finding Jenner from behind the goal with a pass that had to be perfect — and it was, serving up the puck on a platter.

Nash also notched the primary assist on Jenner's empty netter. While it's a small sample size, Nash looked much better on Tuesday night, and if he can continue this spark, the Blue Jackets will have another line with chemistry that they can rely on — and that's never a bad thing.

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