Chris Kreider says he’s good to go for Rangers in crucial Game 6 vs. Hurricanes

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Despite skipping practice the day before because of maintenance and a curious prognosis by his coach, Chris Kreider told reporters that he’ll be in the lineup when the New York Rangers visit the Carolina Hurricanes for a crucial Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Thursday.

Kreider used both off days between Games 5 and 6 to stay off the ice but took part in an optional morning skate at PNC Arena on Thursday. Though all coach Peter Laviolette would say was that it was “a real positive” Kreider took part in the skate, it was the forward who confirmed he’s good to go when the Rangers try for the third straight game to close out the Hurricanes in this best-of-7 series.

The 33-year-old was minus-3 and held without a shot on goal in the 4-1 Game 5 loss at Madison Square Garden on Monday. He’s scoreless and without a shot the past two games, each of which the Rangers lost after taking a 3-0 series lead.

Kreider does have four points in the series, including a clutch shorthanded goal in the Game 3 overtime win and a power-play goal in Game 2, when the Rangers won in double overtime.

It’s unknown whether or not Kreider is playing with an injury.

“I’m hoping that today was just a normal playoff maintenance,” Laviolette said Wednesday.

Related: Rangers know ‘it’s going to take all of us’ in Game 6 against Hurricanes

Rangers need more from Chris Kreider, star players in Game 6 against Hurricanes

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the extra day off will be a boost for the Blueshirts, whose top players have been shut down the past two games by the Hurricanes. Of their top top-six forwards, only Alexis Lafreniere (in Game 4) has scored a goal. The only other point from the top six is a Game 4 assist by Mika Zibanejad.

Artemi Panarin has really struggled since scoring the OT winner in Game 3. The superstar forward is minus-5 and without a point. He was beaten to a rebound in Game 5 by Evgeny Kuznetsov in the third period that turned into the game-winning goal.

Narratives flip quickly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though. The Rangers were world beaters, winning their first seven postseason games. And now after two losses, they’re facing adversity and questions about the mental fortitude.

A win in Game 6 and they’ll be lauded for their mental toughness and championship timbre.

The reality is, these are two evenly-matched teams. And closing playoff games out in this postseason has been extremely difficult. Teams facing elimination in 2024 (excluding Game 7s) are 10-6, including 4-0 in the second round.

The Hurricanes are 2-0 facing elimination in Round 2, of course, and the Boston Bruins (against the Florida Panthers) and Colorado Avalanche (against the Dallas Stars) each won Game 5 of their respective series when trailing 3-1.

Kreider and the Rangers would love to put an end to that storyline on Thursday.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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