Chris Kreider Is The Key To Beating L.A.

Kreider battled Doughty for most of the night ( NHLI via Getty Images)

Kreider battled Doughty for most of the night ( NHLI via Getty Images)

When Alain Vigneault refused to name names on Thursday’s media day, one “B effort” player he was referring to was Chris Kreider. 

NY played a solid road game after not having played for 6 days. They lost their legs in the third because of it. While the layoff adversely affected them in game 1, it will benefit them in games 4-7. Still, it’s the Cup Final and everyone needs to find a different level.

The L.A. Kings are ripe for the taking. I’m sure many who read this will wonder where I am coming from. Before the series started, the Kings had played nearly 100 more minutes then the Rangers. I don’t care how big and strong you are, that will wear on you. If you watched the game, the Rangers held the edge in play for the first 40 minutes. Their legs simply gave out.

They also weren’t mentally as sharp, which was evident on Derek Stepan’s terrible turnover and an entire team fail on the Kings’s OT winner. Yes, it wasn’t Girardi’s fault. If you review the play, the puck hopped over his stick as he was about to make an outlet pass. Within a millisecond three Kings formed a triangle and intercepted his quick clear attempt for the winner…no other Ranger in sight.

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Good news is that all those things are correctable. Bad news, they won’t score you goals. The Rangers have speed, it was how they created their better scoring opportunities. Yet, you can’t think LA won’t close the gaps and force you to beat them with a down low cycle. NY actually did an excellent job cycling in the first 2 periods, but how many guys were actually in front to jam home a puck? Not many is the answer.

You can forget Rick Nash being a net body presence, it’s not his game. He is a finesse player dressed in a power forward’s body, so move on. The player that needs to mature beyond expectation in the Stanley Cup Final is Chris Kreider.

The 23 year old has 10 points in 11 games these playoffs. Not bad, but he needs to be much better. In game 1 he was credited with 5 hits versus LA. That’s great! Here’s the problem, if you’re hitting that much, it means you don’t have the puck. Kreider finished the game with 1 shot in 16 minutes of play. Simply not going to cut it.

Chris Kreider is the embodiment of what most of the LA Kings players are; big and strong. What separates him from most is he may be the fastest player in the Final (or tied with Carl Hagelin).

If the Rangers hope to win the Stanley Cup, Chris Kreider needs to fire off at least 3-5 shots a game and make room for his big finesse line mate, Rick Nash. We all know Marty St. Louis will be a factor, it’s his pedigree and M.O. in the NHL. We know that Brassard, Zuccarello and Pouliot will continue to thrive together. But the one line the Rangers need centered by Stepan, has got to better.

It may not be fair for the young man, but Chris Kreider has to bring his “A+ game” for the remaining games of this season. He may not even know it, but he is the Rangers best hope to win the Stanley Cup.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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