Gerard Gallant sends Rangers message by demoting Chris Kreider to fourth line

Chris Kreider was dropped all the way down from his first-line left wing perch to the fourth line. It was a pretty stunning move in the third period of the New York Rangers 3-2 OT loss to the Red Wings on Sunday.

“[Kreider] deserved to be where he was at,” Gerard Gallant said with disappointment. “He wasn’t alone.”

After starting the game with Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko, Kreider played the third period with Ryan Carpenter and Julien Gauthier. However, when the OT session began he was out there with Mika for the 3 on 3.

Chris Kreider demoted to the fourth line

new york rangers
Oct 20, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) talks with left wing Chris Kreider (20) before a face-off against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unlikely what we saw in the third period against Detroit will stick going forward, but Gallant was really looking to shake the doldrums out of his team. After two periods, they were being outshot by a 24-17 margin.

For what it’s worth, the Blueshirts at least outshot the Wings 12-8 in that final period but were not able to get a goal or the win.

“The old problems of giving up the odd man rush bit us again tonight,” Gallant said. “We made some good plays in the o-zone but we just seem to gamble too much. Turning pucks overs and not enough people coming back giving up odd man rushes.”

New York will practice this afternoon and it will be interesting to see if any line changes are coming.

Here’s how the lines were set up late in the game against the Wings:

  • Panarin – Zibanejad – Kakko
  • Vesey – Trocheck – Blais
  • Lafrenière – Chytil – Goodrow
  • Kreider – Carpenter – Gauthier

While I think there’ll be a restoration of the first line with Kreider back, I could see Alexis Lafrenière remain with Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow for balance. And since the next game is against the New York Islanders, Ryan Reaves should be back which means a potential scratch of either Jimmy Vesey, Julien Gauthier, or Sammy Blais will be in the cards.

Of the three, Blais has seemed to struggle the most this season after a 10 month layoff due to ACL surgery. A day off may actually help his game.

As for Kreider, his 4 goals and 10 points through 13 contests has him on pace for 63 points. That would be his second highest career total after scoring 77 last season. What’s concerning is the fact that he’s way off the mark of the amazing 52 scored last season. Kreider is currently on pace for just 25 and the Rangers need more from him.

However, I think Gallant didn’t demote him for not scoring enough. The message was certainly directed at Chris to play a better all around game, but to let the team know that they all need to elevate their compete levels.

If Kreider can be demoted to the fourth line, some others will likely find themselves in the press box.

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