Thank god the Rangers have Rick Nash. That’s a statement not just uttered countless times by the Ranger fan base but is something that Chris Kreider has probably said a few times this season as well. Luckily for Kreider, Nash’s blistering start has diverted a lot of attention from several underperforming players including Kreider.
Kreider has had games this year where he has been utterly dominant. The big winger has been a wrecking ball and an offensive threat on almost every shift in some games. Then there is the Kreider that has disappeared and who has been a liability while contributing nothing offensively.
Right now, we’re seeing both sides from Kreider and that’s simply not good enough. He’s playing physically yet he’s not contributing offensively. This is the year that Kreider should be taking the next step, the year that he should be developing the consistency that elite players are known for. Obviously the skill set is there for Kreider to be a top tier power forward but he’s not delivering to expectations.
Kreider is currently riding a six game pointless streak. When he has scored, he’s scored in bunches (four points in a two games spell once and four points in a three game spell to start the year). He’s only registered one shot in his last two games yet he is fourth in ice time among Ranger forward for the season (at both 5 v 5 and on the powerplay). The opportunities have clearly been there.
Kreider’s shooting percentage should not be a concern. He’s down from last year (from 12.5% down to 10.5%) but he’s still at a rate where if he can get himself in the positions to succeed his finishing ability should not be an issue. So what is wrong with Kreider?
There will be a point when Rick Nash slows down. He cannot maintain his current shooting percentage of 18.6% even if he continues to have a dominant season. This is when Kreider will need to step up. This is why a team has depth: to cope with inevitable highs and lows players go through. When Nash goes through a dry spell, the likes of Kreider, Marty St Louis and Mats Zuccarello will need to step up.
Many people were expecting this to be the year where Kreider took off. Some were even anticipating him out scoring Nash. So far this season, Kreider has merely teased us with his skill. It’s time he started to put it all together. If he does, the Rangers could have another successful season on their hands.