When Chris Kreider was put on the shelf with a broken hand after the Coyotes game on March 24th, the Rangers lost an impact player whose speed and net presence was a major factor in the team’s success this season.
Thankfully, the Rangers depth provided enough of a parachute to get the Rangers into the playoffs as the #2 seed in the Metro Division as well as past the Flyers in a grueling seven game first round series.
However, it wasn’t all puppy dogs and ice cream as the Rangers power play turned into a disaster as they headed toward historic ineptness, while his linemates went into series scoring funks.
The death of Marty St. Louis mother is universally credited for giving the Rangers an emotional edge that allowed them to reverse a 3-1 deficit to the Penguins as well as dominate a heavily favored Canadiens team.
But what’s been grossly overlooked is the return of Kreider to the line-up in Game 4. While the Rangers lost that game and their goalless streak on the power play reached 36 attempts, they gained a player who offered everything the team was missing against the Metro champs.
Kreider has now equally missed and played 10 postseason games. So, we should get a real fair comparison of his impact. Let’s look at the numbers.
For a team who scored just 22 goals in the first 10 games of the postseason, the absence of Kreider’s skill level was evident. After being shutout in his first contest back, as he worked through the rust of not playing in over a month, Kreider has chipped in with four goals and six assists in the last nine games. His presence in the line-up has also had a positive impact on the entire team as the Rangers are 7-3 since his return, scoring 32 goals.
The Rangers were 3-for-42 on the power play in the first 10 games of the postseason. After Kreider was re-inserted back into the line-up? 8-for-39. He’s one of the few players willing to pay the price in front of the net as well as do the dirty work which is so integral to a power play’s success. The Rangers won’t have a chance against the Kings without a potent power play and Kreider will be at the forefront of any success.
Meanwhile, in the opening 10 postseason games without their regular left winger, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash combined for just two goals and six assists. In the 10 games with Kreider? Six goals and 12 assists. Kreider is not only a top notch skater, he also plays with an edge that draws a lot of attention opening up time and space for his linemates. Similar to the power play, if Stepan and Nash can’t continue playing at an elite level the Rangers are cooked.
Kreider is also responsible for the biggest impact play this postseason when he purposely ran Carey Price in an obvious attempt to injure the Olympic Gold Medal winning goaltender. Without Price, the Canadiens didn’t stand a chance. (sarcasm alert)
In all seriousness, the threat of Kreider crashing the net is enough to put any defense on their heels and goaltender off his game, which will be huge against the Kings.
In baseball terms, Kreider is a five-tool player and I fully expect a coming out party for him on the national stage.