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Is it time to give Kreider a chance on the top six?

He was effective last year. Maybe it's time to give him a real chance (Photo: AP).

He was effective last year. Maybe it’s time to give him a real chance (Photo: AP).

Let me begin by stating that I am not an advocate of playing Chris Kreider at the current moment. He has been very suspect defensively, and he just hasn’t been good without the puck. When he isn’t scoring, his role is severely limited on this team. I am still of the belief that Kreider needs to round out his game before he can get big time minutes.

That said, Kreider’s greatest assets are his speed and offensive potential. For a Rangers club that has mustered just one lucky bounce goal in two games these playoffs, it may be time to let the kid loose and see what he can do when given a chance with offensive minded players. At this stage of the series, the Rangers need goals, and they might be willing to sacrifice some defensive mindedness to find some goals.

As it stands now, the Rangers top-six aren’t scoring. Carl Hagelin is the only forward who has been consistent in generating offensive chances, but that took a hit when Alex Ovechkin hit him knee-on-knee in Game Two (albeit incidentally). Rick Nash was a force in Game One, but we didn’t hear from him until the third period of Game Two. The Caps aren’t good enough defensively to shut down a team like this.

Half of the Caps defensemen leave a lot to be desired when it comes to foot speed. We’ve seen Hagelin, Nash, and other forwards burn past the defense on multiple occasions, but they haven’t been able to finish. Kreider has the same speed as Hagelin when he gets going, and there’s no reason to believe the kid, who was pretty good in Game One, wouldn’t be able to generate something when placed on a line with like-minded players.

Even though Brad Richards has had an awful year, he has looked a lot better when on a line with Mats Zuccarello. What that pairing lacks is someone who will go to the middle of the net and feast on rebounds. Kreider, a natural power forward, is that kind of player. The reason why Nash didn’t work is because his style of play is similar to Richards’ style, and they make each other redundant on the ice. Line building is finding nice compliments for each player’s skill set, and Kreider’s speed and willingness to go to the dirty area in front of the net compliments Zuccarello and Richards very well.

There is also the option of putting the Kreider-Stepan-Callahan line back together, the one that worked so well in last year’s playoffs. All three are fast, skilled, and have great hockey IQ. That’s a dangerous trio against a team that struggles defensively.

Inserting Kreider back into the lineup, but more importantly into the top-six and given a chance to play without penalty of benching, is a very big risk. He’s not sound defensively, and shifts won’t end well if he gets pinned in his own zone. But when deployed properly, especially if he’s given powerplay time, he could be a dangerous asset.

We generally say that the playoffs are not time to experiment, but the status quo is not working. Sometimes, change is necessary, even if it’s a long shot.

18 Responses to “Is it time to give Kreider a chance on the top six?”

  1. Bloomer says:

    Speed kills, for a defenseman having a forward bearing down on him with his hair on fire is your worst nightmare. Kreider is going to be a NHLer. When and how he will fit in with the Rangers is the big question. Like your article said if he was more attentive defensively he be in the lineup right now. He also needs to use his size more on the opposing defensemen. I been advocating since he joined the squad that he be reunited with Stephan and bring the same magic that the 2 provided when they won the World Junior Gold metal. Brassard line was way more effective when Torts put Hags on it. Kreider has drive and work ethic. If he comes prepared in training camp, he will get his shot on the first 2 lines. My combos for opening night next year:
    Krieder Stephan Cally
    Hags Brassard Nash
    Zuc Richards Clowe
    Dorset Boyle Miller……Fearless Prediction Rangers win back to back game 3 and 4.

  2. Walt says:

    What have we got to lose? Look, Torts makes changes every other shift anyway, so let Krieder play an entire period with a set line, and let him free.

    Kreider-Step-Callie
    Nash-Brass-Boyle
    Zucc-Richards-Hags
    Asham-Powe-Dorsett

    Start with these lines, after a period, things don’t work out, switch Boyle and Hags. With this line up, each line has a defensively sound player, a play maker, and closer to a certain extent. You have to do something different, whatever Tort’s game plan is, well it’s not working.

    Also, why not put Dorsett out there when Ovie is on the ice. Have him get under his skin, like Dubi did, and force Ovie to react to him. Hay, if you remember Ovie did drop the gloves with Dubi, I’ll take that deal any day.

    As to your comment about the defense that the Caps have being slow, we have speed to burn, what are we saving it for? A big yes for the Kreider kid being in the line up Monday!!!!

  3. joe719 says:

    “…the playoffs are not a time to experiment..” So the case of inserting Dorsett is an exception to that rule? Not only did he make his first appearance in the Series, but his first ever in the uniform! Look, Kreider has been misused by Tortorella, that’s obvious; but to take him out of the lineup while keeping Asham in just makes NO sense. We keep hearing about how Kreider is not defensively responsible; how can that be said given his lack of any appreciable ice time? Put him with some bona fide offensive talent and lets see him produce. Richards is not exactly Bob Gainey out there, but he doesn’t lose his spot! Even if he just puts him on the PP to stand in front and give Nash some cover; its worth a try. Its getting late very quickly in this Series!

    • Dave says:

      Dorsett is an NHL player. Kreider is still a prospect. It’s apple and oranges.

      • joe719 says:

        Dorsett is an energy guy; that’s what he brings to the table. And lets be honest here, as a Ranger, he is a prospect too! For a team that has shown no offensive spark in the first 2 games, taking Kreider out and keeping Asham in makes no sense. And please, would people stop bringing up Kreider’s AHL play. He was playing on a lousy team, with no real NHL offensive talent. And still, he played well while down there. Kreider played very well against Washington in last years Series; to just dismiss him as a defensive liability; and to limit his ice time to 5 mins or so, is just wasting a potential asset. Its not good coaching!

    • Dave says:

      Also, regarding Kreider: He was a mess in his own zone in the AHL, where he’s been getting a lot of ice time.

    • Walt says:

      Hay Joe

      The point I was trying to make is for Torts to maybe think out of the box for a change!!

  4. Bloomer says:

    Kreider was given a shot at the end of the season and in game 1 (he did squat). I disagree with the comment that Torts has misused Kreider. A player has to earn their spot on the team, this isn’t peewee hockey. Kreider hasn’t proven yet he belongs on the first 2 lines. A good training camp in the offseason and maybe he will get his shot.

  5. Pete says:

    Does matter if Gretzky and Howe were put on the first/second line, this team stinks. So tires of watching uninspired hockey and defensemen doing snow angels. Pretty sick of the power play being the other teams advantage too… So in summation, who cares where Kreider plays, he’s been a non-factor more times than not, like the rest of the team.

  6. Pete says:

    Doesn’t*

  7. Chris F says:

    The lack of scoring has been troubling, but let’s not get carried away with the 2-0 deficit and act as if the Caps are a superior team.

    I sincerely chalk game 1 up to a series of momentum killing bad calls; several led to Caps goals, several deprived the Rangers of PP opportunities, one took Callahan off the ice for a 5-on-3 where he is quite effective and one took away a Rangers goal. Hagelin hit a post and had a breakaway that Holtby saved. That game could have went very differently.

    Then, in game 2, the Rangers (i.e. Lundqvist) held the Caps off the score board for 60 minutes. Stralman hit a post on a blast from the point and Nash hit a post when he came blitzing in on goal. That game could have been a 1-0, 2-0 Rangers shut-out.

    Our PK has been great (and has actually generated scoring chances).

    Coming back to the Garden, this team can, and will, change their own luck in game 3.

    Let’s Go Rangers!

  8. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Dave,Kreider seriously.Stop with the distraction.This is about the coach,high price B.RICH and others not getting the job done,not a young rookie.Write about Richards failure to improve the PP over two yrs. time.If we are talking or writing about Kreider at this point in time we must be down 2zero,looking at maybe 3zero.

  9. MP says:

    It makes sense to at least dress him for no other reason than his speed would make a difference late in a close gamem or in OT. He wouldnt likely play more than 3-5 minutes for this coach anyway so he’d be fresh.
    Can’t see the logic of dressing both Dorsett and Asham anyway.

  10. Mark says:

    This is largely about the Power play. the 5 on 3 killed them in game 1 and then 2 PP’s in game 2 go for zero just before the goal. Not every PP is going to work of course, but i watch the energy that other playoff teams have and cannot believe that we are so bad with the level of talent on the ice. Part of it is the same old story of no QB on the D, but it is more than that, as the coaching of the PP is bad and Richards as slumped. We are rarely in position for off wing one timers (like Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Stamkos, Penguins) or and are always working the puck along the boards (which is largely a waste of the clock) and settling for wrist shots from the point. PP clicks then Rangers win..if not …

  11. Ray says:

    Replacing Kreider and Newbury with Dorsett and Boyle made the team worse actually. Almost no forward played as well in Game 2 as Kreider did in Game 1. IMO, Callahan was great and Stepan, Nash, Asham played decently, the rest couldn’t cut it.

  12. Ray V says:

    If Kreider showed the work ethic and speed (which he has) as Hags does….he would be playing. With his speed he should be able to fly down the ice past almost anyone and catch up to anyone on defense. He really has not shown any will to want to stay in the big leagues yet. Hags is relentless at chasing after the puck. Kreider has the momentary bursts (once in a while). His game without the puck just plain sucks. Not a fan of the kid. Let’s also not get carried away with his “talent” in the minors. He is not playing against NHL players there. He may be better than most in the minors, but that by no means makes him an NHL player…at least not yet.

  13. agentsmith says:

    kreider has been ruined. TWICE in game 1 he had a chance to take the puck to the net and decided to dump it in. RUINED.

    • Walt says:

      Again, he is afraid to be benched if he makes a mistake. Put yourself in his skates, make a mistake, you get splinters in your rump from the pine bench!!!!!