Kreider’s Baaaaack! Will he pickup where he left off?
Tonight when the Rangers take on the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden they will be welcoming Chris Kreider back into the lineup.
After sitting for 4 games with a case of the spasms, CK20 will hope to pick up where he left off as the Rangers most dominant player. As I outlined in my last blog, the Rangers biggest strength so far this season has been their forward depth, as highlighted by bottom-6er Michael Grabner‘s hat trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the return of Chris Kreider will give the Rangers their healthiest and most dangerous lineup yet of the season. Let’s talk about what he brings to the team:
When I think about Chris Kreider’s development over the last few seasons one element of his game that has always been present was his blazing speed. When given open ice there are not many defenseman that are going to fend off #20 coming down that left wing. With the Rangers newfound ability to transition efficiently without much help from the back-end, they have seen an increase in breakaway chances. There is no player more fit to play that type of north-south offense than Kreider.
I think that this may be the most improved aspect of Kreider’s game so far this season. At 6 foot 3 and 230lbs CK20 is a big boy, and to this point in his career I always felt he was pretty soft in areas he should be dominating. That mentality has completely changed this season, as I’ve seen countless occasions that he has used his wheels to be that first man in retrieving a puck and grinding down defenseman while his line mates get set up.
Net Front Presence
As I said, Kreider is a big big boy, and boy is it scary when he’s coming at you, ask Montreal. His ability to cut close in tight has opened opportunities across the goal crease on numerous occasions already this season. Not to mention a man his size makes a much better door than window. Before their 0/5 against the Lightning, the Rangers were a top 10 team on the power play, and Kreider will only improve that unit.
He will be joining a team that is dominating both the eye test and the numbers test. The Rangers rank first in the league in expected goals for %, goals per hour, and scoring chances for %, while ranking 2nd in shooting%. This is all while also ranking 26th in the league in offensive zone starts, further proof that the offense has been able nullify the inefficicies of the defense.
Kreider is playing on a team friendly contract, and quickly becoming a veteran presence in a young, deep Rangers lineup. It’s not the first time Rangers fans have called for CK20’s coming out party, but it seems he has finally arrived.
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AV said Kreider will return tomorrow and will play with Zibanejad and Zuccarello. Lindberg expected to be a healthy scratch. #NYR
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 31, 2016