Rangers’ Kreider and Fox impressive through the first half, what will they do next?
Chris Kreider and Adam Fox have both proven to be two of the Rangers’ most valuable players not wearing goalie pads.
Kreider has finally become the player that he was expected to be. Fox won the Norris Trophy last season and is in the conversation again this year. Can they both continue playing at this level for the rest of the season?
Kreider playing a much more consistent game
Throughout Chris Kreider’s career, the narrative has always been that he is a streaky scorer.
That’s always been true, but this season something changed. He has mastered his abilities as THE net-front presence and has been extremely effective in this area. This role gives his game more structure and is helping him to be more consistent.
His previous career high in goals was 28 in 2016-17. He has already surpassed this, reaching 33 goals in 47 games so far this season. Kreider currently leads the NHL in goals and in power play goals with 17. Playing the penalty kill this year has also added another element to his game.
The Rangers don’t have a Captain but are doing well with the six alternates they have. Kreider is one of them and arguably the biggest leadership presence. He is clearly leading by example not just by providing consistent offense but by owning his roles.
The Rangers are slightly more than halfway through their season. They need Kreider to continue playing at this level. But what are the possibilities for him? Could he score 50 goals this year? It would be difficult, but if he continues to score at this pace it’s hard to bet against him. So long as the power play is still clicking, this is attainable.
Could he be considered for the Hart Trophy? He has been incredibly valuable to the Rangers this season, so he likely would be in the conversation. But, it is difficult to say if he could be seriously considered.
He’s making a case for himself with his offense, penalty killing, and leadership. But as the season goes on the question will be if there is another player more valuable to his team. We’re watching a different and evolved Chris Kreider this season, so it will be exciting to see what he does in the second half of the year.
Adam Fox Norris repeat?
Adam Fox is having another outstanding season for the Rangers. He continues to be a reliable and effective defender playing with Ryan Lindgren, but there are other great aspects to his game as well. He is an excellent quarterback on the first power play unit, has offensive upside, and, as recently demonstrated, can be used in the shootout.
The Norris Trophy goes to the defenseman who plays the best all-around game. Fox is undoubtedly one of the top defensemen in the league but has other qualities as well. He currently leads the Rangers in assists with 40. He also tied for most points by all NHL defensemen with Tampa’s Victor Hedman at 47.
Lastly, The Rangers went to a shootout with the Los Angeles Kings and used Adam Fox for the first time in his NHL career. Fox deked and roofed the puck on a back-hander to give the Rangers the win. It makes one wonder: is there anything he can’t do?
Victor Hedman, Cale Makar, and Roman Josi are Fox’s biggest competition for the title of best defenseman. But if Fox continues to play his all-around game the way he has been, he has a good chance of winning the Norris again.
Fox will be back for the Rangers after the All-Star break.
Note: All stats come from hockeyreference.com
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