Get ready for a statistic to end all statistics.
Riley Nash has four points through nine games this season.
Now, that may not seem like the greatest stat in the world, except when you realize it took him 24 games to reach that mark last campaign, and 44 games to get his fifth.
When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Nash in the offseason heading into the 2018-2019 season, they were expecting much of the same that the then-29-year-old had recently produced.
He was coming off of a 15-26-41 run with the Boston Bruins the year prior and getting over 15 minutes of ice time per game in the process. For a Blue Jacket team that was lacking depth in the middle, he was a solid pickup.
After just recording two points through ten games, we said he was still adjusting to a new team. When it was two points through 23 games, we said he's snake-bitten. When it was 12 through 78, we started thinking "Who is this guy that killed Riley Nash and took over his body?"
Now, while Nash was dreadful on the scoresheet, he was subtly showing signs of intense defensive value as the year went along, and especially into the postseason. When he was sidelined due to injury in the Boston series in round 2, there was a clear hole that not many suspected would be so hard to fill. He had three points in seven playoff games (where the club went 6-1) and once he was injured, the club went 0-3.
Was Nash the sole reason for the postseason series loss? Not at all, but his value was certainly highlighted, and made us all take a closer look. Despite his 12 total points last season, was 10th on the team in blocks and hits, 7th in hits, had the least amount of giveaways for anyone that played 70-plus games and was 4th on the team in expected +/-.
So, the fact that this season, Nash is adding to the score sheet? That's very, very good for the Blue Jackets, folks.
Again, Nash has four points through nine games (1-3-4) putting him on pace for roughly a 36-point season, should he play in all 82 outings. Columbus has already shown early struggles to find the back of the net offensively, so any increase from Nash in terms of scoring is welcomed.
"You can't rely on your top guys every night, you gotta pitch in from the bottom, too," said Nash after a 4-3 overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Last night, a "bottom" guy himself scored the first shorthanded goal of the season for the club and was trusted by John Tortorella to be on the ice with his young wingers with less than two minutes in a tie game (against the Maple Leafs, at that).
OK, so we lied earlier. Here's the statistic to end all statistics. Last season, Nash contributed 0.6 defensive point shares and -0.8 offensive point shares in his 78 games, per hockeyreference.com, good for a whopping -0.2 total point shares on the campaign. Literally, negative point shares, the only player to do so that was in more than 15 games.
This year, Nash is already off to 0.4 PS (tied for 10th on the team) and has 0.3 OPS and 0.1 DPS. He has even improved his offensive zone start percentage from an abysmal 29.9 to 52.8, and defensive zone start percentage from 70.1 to 47.2.
Solid, steady improvement, people.
Riley Nash has been valuable to the Blue Jackets and is now starting to show it at the eye-test level. As Columbus continues to push their top-six forwards to find steady scoring habits, Nash looks to find a bit of consistency on the score sheet for his own.
Follow 1st Ohio Battery