Chris Kreider has a knack for making a major impact during the playoffs. During the 2011-2012 playoffs he made his NHL debut and provided an insight of what the Rangers were getting. He scored 5 goals and added 2 assists to his tally during the Blueshirts playoff run. He also holds the record for the most playoff goals scored before playing his first NHL regular season game, with five from those games.
Since then Kreider has bounced back and forth from the AHL to NHL because of his struggles under John Tortorella. However, ever since Alain Vigneault has arrived to Broadway and kept him in his NHL role, Kreider has continued to develop and become the star the Rangers were hoping for.
This season, Kreider played his first full regular season as a rookie. He was on his way to be a Calder Memorial Trophy candidate (Rookie of the Year award), but an injury had set him back, dropping him out of the race. In 66 games, he scored 17 goals and had 37 points, which was not up to par of what was expected of him but his hand injury had set him back.
Kreider finally returned during the playoffs in Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 playoffs. During the game, he looked lost and definitely could not fully keep up with the play, but that can happen after sitting out from an injury for a long time. The Rangers lost that game and were down 3-1 in the series. After that game, Martin St. Louis’ mother unexpectedly had passed away and that seemed put life back into the Rangers’ game, especially Kreider’s.
Game 5 was played in Pittsburgh and Kreider had found his old game. He sparked the Rangers scoring and they never looked back, winning the game 5-1. The Rangers took the Penguins to Game 7 and knocked them out. Even when he was not scoring during the Blueshirts’ cup run, Kreider made an impact in other ways from defense to creating odd man rushes that would lead to scoring chances.
During the Montreal series, Kreider definitely proved to be a catalyst. Whether it was scoring goals or making plays on both ends of the ice, fans could see he was truly becoming an NHL star. He added 3 points during the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Rangers were defeated in 5 games.
He ended the 2014 playoffs with 5 goals and 8 assists in 15 games, totaling 13 points. So can Chris Kreider live up to his potential and be the star the Rangers were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round, 19th overall in the 2009 draft? If he continues to stay on the Rangers top line and maintains his progress under Alain Vigneault, we can expect him to have a breakout year. He has flourished under Vigneault’s fast-paced style of hockey and can only get better as he learns from team veterans like Nash and St. Louis.
This season we can definitely see Kreider, Stepan, and Nash continue to develop their chemistry and become an even greater offensive force than they were last year. Kreider seems to love playing the power play and big minutes, but he does tend to take unnecessary penalties, which at times has hurt the team. If he can work on being a more disciplined player, Kreider can be a great asset to the Rangers this year. He has the potential to be a star with the Rangers and put up big numbers. Kreider should easily be able total at least 55 points during the 2014-2015 season and play a big role in the Rangers playoff push.