Chris Kreider returns to the Rangers at a very interesting time. Our new “offensive system” has generated 1.57 goals per game. Three of our top players are injured. And when Taylor “Life Of” Pyatt is 2nd among forwards in ice time, as he was last night, you can understand some of the negative sentiment percolating this fan base. Although it’s only been 7 games, something has to give.
Enter Kreider, who scored 5 goals and 7 points in 18 games upon joining the league during the 2012 playoffs, but has since scored 5 points in 31 regular season games while being shuffled back and forth between the AHL and the Show. And while it’s certainly debatable Rangers brass has mismanaged the kid a little bit, that can certainly become the prologue in this story if he finally sticks in the top 6 of this lineup.
Right now the Rangers really have no choice but to give Kreider top 6 minutes and hope he grabs it. At some point Richie is either going to run out of gas, or defenses are going to start doubling him. Someone else has to step up and start finding twine. His 4 points in 6 games at Hartford this season lends some hope.
Kreider’s scouting report says he is supposed to be that guy, but I haven’t seen anything that really resembles his scouting report in his young career. He was supposed to be a power forward, someone who uses his (listed) 6’3 frame to protect the puck and get after it on the forecheck. Yet, all we have seen at this point is a perimeter player, who has occasionally converted on transition rushes. He needs to bring more than that if he wants to avoid I-84.
I’m not looking for him to excel in all three zones off the bat, but he certainly has to make an effort in all three zones. I’m certainly not expecting for him to pop a point per game either, but he can only help his cause by bringing more offense to the table than Taylor Pyatt, who by some stroke of miracle is his competition for the top LW spot.
Of course, sometimes one needs to be put in a position to succeed in order to have success. Hopefully AV gives Kreider more faceoffs in the offensive zone than he is currently giving JT Miller and Jesper Fast. Both of whom are getting a minority of their zone starts in the offensive zone (after a whistle) since their respective recalls.
Hopefully Kreider can get going and show us that his potential will start to intersect with his performance. After all, with the injuries we have, there isn’t anyone else.