Since Chris Kreider went out with a broken left hand on March 24, the Rangers have gone 7-for-71 on the power play, including 0-for their last-34 in the playoffs.
His physical presence has been sorely lacking on the crease, forcing some of his teammates out of their natural positions to compensate.
But it sounds like that’s all going to change tonight, as Mike Francesa at WFAN gave us this update on Kreider’s status for Game 4…
“If he’s ready, he’s gonna play. I’ve heard rumblings. I don’t have any confirmation, and I don’t think there will be any. I would look for him tomorrow, though. I think there’s a 50-50 chance he plays tomorrow. He’s not being ruled out, that’s for sure. I would say that. He’s not being ruled out. I’m not saying he’s in, and no one has told me he’s in … I think there’s a chance.”
Meanwhile, Kreider’s head coach didn’t sound as optimistic but did admit the 23-year old forward is coming along (via Bergen Record)…
“I think we’re going to know here in a short time frame here,” Alain Vigneault said. “I don’t know what short is, a day or a couple.
“It’s tough for me to answer without talking to the doctors.”
…a broken bone is much different than a muscle strain. If Kreider was dealing with a pulled groin or hamstring, I’d be much less excited about an expedited return as the threat of re-injuring himself would be significant. But with a break, as long as he can play through the pain and adds a little extra padding on his glove he should be good to go.
…i needed surgery for a broken thumb I sustained playing lacrosse in college and when I returned the pain was still there, but I had a custom brace made to help me overcome any physical as well as mental concerns. Gaining confidence in his hand is going to be key to Kreider’s performance. If he’s preoccupied with concerns about the stability of the hand, he’s going to have very little chance of making an impact. But if he trusts that the injury is fully healed it should hasten his return to form.
…an under-rated part of Kreider’s game that will be a welcome return is his snarl. The Rangers have had a down right friendly demeanor up until this point in the playoffs, so having someone willing to play with an edge could help spark this team as well as the embarrassingly tranquil MSG crowd.
…getting Kreider a few practices under his belt would be ideal, but the Rangers don’t have that luxury right now. If Francesa’s report that Kreider is 50/50 for tonight is correct, and I have no reason to think otherwise, I find it hard to believe he’s not going to be in the lineup at puck drop tonight.