Chris Kreider has been a pretty interesting Ranger to date. He burst on the scene in the 2012 playoffs, then struggled to stay on the NHL roster. His mix of size, speed, and skill is difficult for other teams to match up against, and it has created some nightmares for the opposition. Yet since he doesn’t put up 50 goals and 100 points, he’s deemed a failure to some (which is asinine).
Kreider is usually good for 25 goals and roughly 45 points per season, and it’s within the realm of possibility that he eclipsed 30 goals this season. His contributions go beyond the counting stats though. He’s a constant net front presence and one of the few Rangers that has some snarl to his game. His speed and ability to get to the front of the net creates space for his teammates.
His ability to create both with and without the puck shows in his possession numbers as well. Kreider is a solid first line winger who found solid chemistry on what could have been a dangerous first line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. Injuries derailed it, and now the Rangers are feeling the struggle.
Since Kreider’s blood clot/rib resection, the Rangers have played some pretty poor hockey. It admittedly did start a few games before the injury with three straight games of 30+ shots allowed, but since then the Rangers have been pummeled even more. It wasn’t until the Flyers game when they stopped allowing 30+ shots on goal, a run of 10 games, 7 without Kreider.
The case can be made that the Rangers would have played like this with Kreider, since they did play like poop for the three games prior. However it was in January when the Rangers really started to show their weaknesses. They barely beat two horribad teams (Buffalo, Arizona) and got crushed in the others.
Without Kreider, teams don’t have to worry about the speedster that stretches the defense and really can’t be forced off the puck. Sure, there’s Michael Grabner, but he’s not playing in the top-six. Kreider was that guy for the Rangers who balanced out the lineup.
Much like when Zibanejad was out of the lineup, the Rangers are struggling without one of their top line skaters. I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but whereas the Rangers struggled without Zibanejad because of roster construction issues, they struggle without Kreider because his skill set is missed. The Rangers don’t have the matchup advantage anymore. It’s something they won’t have until he returns, too."The Rangers miss Chris Kreider",