After Chirs Kreider took the NHL by storm in the playoffs last year, we all thought the sky was the limit for him. He was guaranteed to score 30 goals this season and a lock for the Calder Trophy.
So when he struggled playing in the AHL during the lockout (5g in 34 games), we used every excuse in the book. "He's working on other aspects of his game." "The AHL talent around him is holding him back." "Once the bright lights come back on he'll snap out of it."
Whelp, after 11 games with the Rangers this year, Kreider has just two points (1g, 1a) and routinely looks lost out on the ice.
And after his latest puzzling performance last night, John Tortorella had these concerns regarding Kreider…
"(Kreider) and (Mashinter), there was a bit of a struggle there a couple of times. This is what happens when you have some injuries and you have the kids. I get really worried about that. That we're putting them in a spot that they're just not ready for yet."
…it's no secret that Kreider has been given mixed messages from the Rangers this season. He's been in the press box, assigned to Hartford, recalled, on the top line and on the fourth line. I'm sure his head is spinning right now. So the best thing for his development would be a trip to Hartford and a return to some normalcy. Get him on the top line, play him 20 minutes a night, put him in every situation possible and let him figure it out. Having him play five minutes a night on the fourth line in the NHL doesn't do him or the organization any good.
…while the Rangers might be playing mind games with Kreider, he has to share some of the blame as well. He has contributed nothing offensively no matter who he's playing with. He's not creating chances or putting any kind of pressure on opposing defenses. The other night I watched the Senators sensational rookie Silfverberg flying all over the ice and I wondered to myself, "why can't Kreider do that anymore?" Maybe last year he played on pure adrenaline during the playoffs and we're just finding out now that he's really not ready for the NHL.
…another theory I have is that the Orpik hit he took during the home opener messed him up a bit. Not saying that he suffered a concussion, but you have to wonder if getting crushed like that knocked some of the confidence out of him. Instead of focusing on the puck and making plays, he's now more concerned about avoiding a lurking defensman. Also remember that he suffered a nasty foot injury that is likely effecting him as well. Maybe I'm just looking to make excuses for the kid because I so want him to succeed, but figured I'd just offer some food for thought.