There's been plenty of theories flying around Blueshirts Nation on why Chris Kreider has not been able to put it together and produce on a consistent basis.
Some feel he has a poor hockey IQ, while others think he's not dedicated enough. But Brad Richards says Kreider's nerves are likely his biggest enemy…
“He was pretty uptight in the preseason, understandably. He wanted to make the team more than anybody, I worked out with him all of August up in Connecticut, that’s all he thought about, talked about. I haven’t seen too many guys work that hard away from the rink to get himself ready. He might have pressed a little bit, but he really wants it. Sometimes that can get in your way, your head gets in the way and maybe things don’t look as smooth out there as they should. Hopefully, this is a great chance for him to play on the power play, he’ll get good minutes, hopefully he can put that in his mind before the game starts that he’s going to get this chance and just play. Maybe that’ll help him.”
Kreider agreed with Richards assessment (via Daily News)…
“He’s right. I mean, obviously this isn’t the position I wanted to be in. I was overthinking it (in the preseason). I was thinking about doing A, B and C instead of just doing A, kind of getting in (my) own way. But that’s not an excuse. I’ve got to be mentally sharper, more cognizant of what I should be doing as a hockey player in the game. It’s one thing to work hard; it’s another thing to work smart. So that’s something I’m focusing on and hopefully I can continue doing.”
…i definitely take issue with anyone who thinks the problem with Kreider is that he's not willing to put in the extra work to become a better player. I've never once seen the kid dog it during the game and any practice report I've read indicated he was one of the first guys on the ice and last ones off. And don't even try to criticize his offseason workouts which are reported to be thorough and intense as Richards confirms above. I think we can all agree that the problem with Kreider isn't of the physical nature.
…i've said it before on the blog, but to me the issue is between the ears. Whether it's as Richards says and Kreider is pressing or he's not able to understand the nuances of the NHL game, the best thing Kreider can do is take a deep breath, start having fun on the ice and let his natural born talent take over. If he's able to do that, I don't have any doubt that he can become one of the top scores in the NHL.
Kreider, who also acknowledges that being healthy this season will make a difference in his game, is excited about playing on a line with Richards…
"It doesn't matter who (Richards) plays with he's going to make them better, and that person is going to learn from him. He knows so much. I was lucky enough to lift with him at the end of the summer and kind of pick his brain a little bit, and just from being around him it defintely has helped me, helped bring me along."
…Richards was able to help Del Zotto produce his best NHL season two years ago by taking the young defenseman under his wing. Really hoping the Rangers alternate captain is able to kickstart Kreider's career by doing the same.