Rangers

Hartnett: Kreider Can Be Difference Maker In Game 7

Kreider Set To Receive Increased Minutes On Second Line
Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers waves to the crowd after being named a star of the game in their 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers waves to the crowd after being named a star of the game in their 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Rangers’ rookie Chris Kreider quickly went from overnight sensation to finding his minutes slashed as he was relegated to the fourth line.  That’s about to change.

John Tortorella has promoted Kreider to the Rangers’ second line ahead of the all-deciding Game 7 against the Capitals.  Kreider is set to play alongside Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan.

The trio appeared to strike up an instant chemistry but Kreider’s defensive and positional rawness exposed the Rangers, forcing Tortorella to limit his ice time.  In each of his past two games against the Capitals, Kreider has barely exceeded the 6-minute mark.

Now, Tortorella is ready to roll the dice and take the training wheels off Kreider in hope of igniting the Rangers offensively.  We’ve all seen the havoc that Kreider is capable of producing with his rare combination of size, blazing speed and tremendous vision.

Kreider now appears to have a better understanding of what’s required from him under the intensity of this Eastern Conference Semifinals all-out battle.

“I think my role has been the same in my time that I’ve been here, regardless of the line I’m playing on,” Kreider said to Dave Lozo of NHL.com.

“They probably want more of the same, trying to win puck battles, trying to beat guys to pucks. I think I’ve learned things every single game regardless of the minutes I’ve played. It’s little nuances, little details,” he explained.

The Rangers can use an offensive boost after only scoring a single goal in Game 6 at the Verizon Center.  Tortorella isn’t afraid to put Kreider under the spotlight as he feels Kreider possesses a level of poise, rarely seen among rookies.

Tortorella said about Kreider earlier this playoffs, “He’s an interesting cat, I tell you, as far as he handles himself in this type of situation.”

Stepan expressed his excitement of the prospect of being reunited with Callahan and Kreider on the Rangers’ second scoring line.  He spoke to Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.

“Both those guys move their legs and are really fast skaters, so we want to create space through the neutral zone and create loose pucks in the offensive zone where we can bury our opportunities,” Stepan stated.

Tortorella and the Rangers are hoping that Kreider can make the difference needed to see off the Capitals and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where the New Jersey Devils await tonight’s Game 7 winner.

Can Kreider make the difference in Game 7?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.