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Chris Kreider appears to be nearing a return, and boy do the Rangers need him

In case you forgot, Chris Kreider has had success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before

Though coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t say it outright, it sure sounds like winger Chris Kreider is getting very close to returning to the Rangers’ lineup.

Kreider has missed the team’s last 19 games with an undisclosed left hand injury and would be a major addition to New York’s suddenly offensively-starved lineup.

Vigneault has been married to his unofficial top line – Benoit Pouliot/Derick Brassard/Mats Zuccarello – and his outstanding fourth line – Brian Boyle/Dominic Moore/Derek Dorsett – for most of the second half, but he’s had a devil of a time finding the right combination with Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. Even when Kreider was healthy, chemistry wasn’t automatic, but at least Vigneault had a complete set of top-six forwards (in theory) to choose from. It’s a lot easier to mix and match that way then when a fourth liner like Danny Carcillo is being asked to skate with key offensive players.

Though Kreider was still very inconsistent in his first full pro season, he finished just behind Anton Stralman for the best CF% (55.2) and CF% rel (3.6) on the team. At his best, Kreider was a game-changer at even strength for stretches this season.

Then there’s Kreider’s impact on the power play. Pouliot has been the team’s lone net-front presence on the man advantage in Kreider’s absence, and the team desperately needs a big power forward to play in the dirty areas and distract the easily distracted Marc-Andre Fleury. Kreider finished third on the team with six power play goals in 66 games during the regular season – just one behind Brassard and Pouliot. Given that the Blueshirts have a wealth of distributors and not enough finishers on the man advantage, the insertion of Kreider could make a huge difference.

Of course, all of the positives Kreider might bring to the lineup are dampened by the fact that he hasn’t played an NHL game in over six weeks. Will he really be at game speed if/when he returns? It’s a lot to ask a guy to jump straight into the most physically taxing postseason in sports – but if anyone has practice doing that, it’s Chris Kreider.

16 Responses to “Chris Kreider appears to be nearing a return, and boy do the Rangers need him”

  1. Kris says:

    Kreider returning would also move Nash back to the RW. That could help Nash start to finish. While Nash has played both wings before, it hasnt worked here, not with Gaborik or St Louis.

  2. SalMerc says:

    While it is a nice story “Return of Kreider”, we need 19 other guys to step up their game. If Chris can help make that happen, great. Everyone else should not need the example of hard play by a (almost) rookie to inject life into their own game though.

  3. Dave says:

    Kreider would pretty much eliminate any discussion of Miller/Fast/Carcillo for the second line. Kreider’s injury created one helluva hole.

  4. Walt says:

    While Kreider’s return is welcome, let’s just hope that it’s not too late. Moving Nash to his natural side may help, but that would mean nothing if he still wants to play only in the clean areas!!!!!

    Rick Nash, and Joe Thorten played very well together in Europe during the lock out a few years back, and both suck in the PO’s, I wonder why? And remember Thorten saying the Rangers were soft, that from a guy that has jello for a spine!! Just a thought!

    • Dave says:

      Don’t see how it can be too late (if he returns tonight). They are down 2-1, not 3-0 or 3-1.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Joe Thorton being called a playoff no show is a misnomer. 100 pts in 132 career playoff games. In his most recent 8 seasons he has accumulated 73 pts in 86 playoff games. In his most recent 5 seasons he’s got 47 pts in 56 games.

      If you remove this season (Spring of 14), which I’ll agree was unimpressive, he’s got 32 pts in 34 playoff games (Springs of 11,12,13).

      • The Suit says:

        He’s also -14 with just 1 point in win or go home games for the past 10 years

      • Becky says:

        He’s also captain of a squad that went down harder than Lindsay Lohan post-Mean Girls

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Yes…definitely agree that it was put up or shut up time this year with all of that baggage that SJ team (core) has been carry for however many odd years and he/they failed in tremendous fashion.

          I still reject the notion that he sucks in the playoffs. He certainly isn’t clutch, but it’s not like he doesn’t put up points.

          • Walt says:

            That’s like saying Nash scored last night, when the Rangers were ahead 5-0, wow, now that is impressive. That’s big Joe for you!!!

  5. FL Swarty says:

    Kreider can only help and should provide a positive trickle down effect with moving Nash, stabilizing the lineup, and perhaps just an emotional lift. Is there any real date yet? Tonight would be really good if that is possible.

    The Rangers aren’t going to go anywhere if Nash cannot become a force somewhere. Having gone 40 or more games without a PP goal it is clear it is no there. And if not – why is he still on it?

    Let’s hope Hank can pitch shutout tonight….

  6. Frank Cerbone says:

    Kreider takes more PM and in fewer gms than Pouliot. Having said that, Kreider does have significant upside.

    Hagelin is an even strength goal scorer who would score a lot more, but guys like Richards just can’t keep up with his speed when he is headed up ice. That is why for YEARS I have proposed a trade to acquire Andrew Cogliano (who is 2nd to only Hagelin in speed in the NHL.

    StLouis, Nash, & Richards are what they are; overpaid guys who are on the downside of their careers and who play outside the faceoff circle.

    Rangers need to move/and or buyout St Louis,Nash,Richards, in the offseason.

    Defenseman Niskanen and LW Tanner Glass would go a very long way to providing a n2d offensive defenseman and a middleweight tough guy who can hit without incurring a PM and fight well enough to bloody big guys like Clowe & Rosehill.

    In the last 3 years, Sather has traded a #2 for Clowe, two #2s for Erixon, a #1 for Nash, at least a #1 & #2 for St Louis, and given up on Del Zotto, another #1 gone south

  7. Bort says:

    Kreider needs to jump right in to playoff hockey and have a significant, positive impact on an overworked, exhausted Rangers team….I feel like I’ve seen this one before.

    Hopefully we can get the series back to even and keep our chances alive long enough for him to come back and fill the gap he left.