Listen, I get that the Canadiens organization and fan base are beyond upset with the Carey Price injury. And in today’s society, when something goes wrong we’re always looking for someone to blame. Very rarely is an incident such as the one we witnessed in Game 1 categorized as an accident, which is why Chris Kreider has felt the wrath of the entire province of Quebec.
It’s why Michel Therrien went from initially finding no fault in Kreider being hauled down from behind into his starting goaltender, to calling the Boston College product reckless in the span of two-days. The pressure from the rabid Habs fans to make Kreider the scapegoat was too intense for the Montreal head coach to ignore. So, he bought into the irrational reaction which helped sensationalize the event leading to a very toxic environment at the Bell Centre for Game 2.
Anytime Kreider touched the puck he was received as though he was a descendant of former NHL Commissioner Clarence Campbell, whose decision to suspend Maurice Richard for the 1955 playoffs after an altercation with a linesman led to the “Richard Riot.”
If Therrien or the Bell Centre crowd had any hope that the constant jeering would somehow spook the 23-year old or that the media circus would force him to play a passive game, it was all put to rest when Kreider came out flying from the opening whistle and was arguably the best Rangers player on the ice.
Instead of having a negative impact on his game, Kreider used the ridiculous overreaction as motivation (via New York Post)…
“I thought it was hilarious,” Kreider said. “To tell you the truth, it helped me get up for the game.
“It lit a fire under my ass that I don’t think is going away anytime soon.”
Kreider finished the game with one assist, four hits and was a key factor in the Martin St. Louis power play goal by creating a screen after fighting for position in front of the Montreal net.
The Canadiens have attempted to neutralize Kreider on the ice by dragging him down and off it by making him the villain. In neither case have they been successful in preventing the 2009 first round pick from having an impact in this series. In fact, it looks as though it’s completely backfired as Kreider seems more inspired than ever to get the Rangers into the Stanley Cup Finals.
…the Rangers are now 5-1 since Kreider’s return from injury in Game 4 against the Penguins as well as seven for their last 23 on the power play. We can all point to the emotional lift provided by the death of St. Louis mother as the likely reason for the Rangers playoff resurgence, but don’t downplay the effect Kreider’s presence has had on the Rangers success the last two weeks. His speed and strength is opening up time and space for the power play as well as his linemates, especially Nash.