How Chris Kreider avoided game misconduct for Rangers vs. Panthers in Game 4

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Social media may have loved what Chris Kreider did to Matthew Tkachuk during a third-period post-whistle scrum in the New York Rangers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Tuesday. But it was almost no laughing matter for the Rangers forward.

Kreider grabbed Tkachuk’s mouthguard, which was dangling out of the mouth of the Panthers forward, when the two were jawing at one another early in the third. When finally separated by officials, Kreider appears to throw the mouthguard toward the crowd.

Reportedly, Kreider was unsuccessful and the mouthguard landed harmlessly on the ice. And that saved him from a game misconduct, as explained by Jeff Marek on the 32 Thoughts podcast Wednesday.

“If he was trying to do it, he was lucky he didn’t do it,” Marek shared. “You know why? You know what the penalty is for doing it? It’s a game misconduct. It’s rule 53.5. So, he may have tried to throw it but the fact that he couldn’t actually saved him a game misconduct.”

Asked by Peter Baugh of The Athletic after the game about the incident, Kreider played dumb.

“I don’t remember that,” Kreider said.

But it did happen. Well, most of the story happened. Just not all of it.

“I know it’s a hilarious story but unfortunately it isn’t true. Kreider did not throw Tkachuk’s mouthguard into the crowd. It went straight up and it landed right on the ground,” Elliotte Friedman explained on 32 Thoughts. “Now, he may have been trying to do it, but he failed in his attempt.”

Related: Blake Wheeler’s inspirational return ends on sour note in Game 4 loss

Chris Kreider’s struggles continue for Rangers against Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If Kreider grabbed Tkachuk’s mouthpiece and it was a show of anger or frustration, it’s understandable. The Panthers were again dominating how the game was being played, severely tilting the ice in their favor. Somehow the Rangers got this game to overtime again — riding the great play of Igor Shesterkin — before losing 3-2 in Game 4.

Kreider was held without a shot on goal and only one attempt in 19:23 of ice time Tuesday. He is without a point in the series and is minus-3 with five shots on goal. This follows his dramatic natural hat trick in the decisive Game 6 against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round, making the funk all the more confusing.

With Kreider and Zibanejad on the ice in Game 4, the Rangers were out-attempted by a whopping 21-5.

“We’ve got to do a better job of advancing pucks up the ice and establishing O-zone presence,” Kreider explained to Gannett. “A lot of that falls on me. I’ve got to be able to get in there and win pucks – get my body on pucks, move my feet and allow us to get up the ice and start rolling.”

That has not happened with any sense of consistency in this series, which is now even 2-2 heading back to Madison Square Garden for a crucial Game 5 on Thursday.

No doubt, the Rangers would prefer fewer hijinks and more production from the all-time playoff goals leader.

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

Mentioned in this article:

More About: