By Sean Hartnett
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Watching Chris Kreider is like waiting for a dormant volcano to awaken. You’re not sure when he’s going to erupt, but at some point you’re going to see something spectacular and totally unpredictable.

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It’s clear that the 24-year-old power forward possesses all the speed, skill and size needed to become a major star in the NHL. Yet, the Rangers haven’t seen enough fireworks from the former Boston College standout.

In his 41 games, the 6-foot-3 winger has collected six goals and 13 assists. While his 0.46 points-per-game average isn’t far below his career mark of 0.50, he lacks game-to-game consistency.

This isn’t what the Rangers were expecting from a top-six winger blessed with such outstanding raw talent.

“I look at Chris Kreider and I believe he can be an elite player in this league,” head coach Alain Vigneault said in September. “He’s got everything to become a dominant power forward in this league. He’s got almost two full years under his belt, except for a couple games in my first year. He’s been improving. He’s been taking strides. It’s his time to shine now. It’s his time to become one of the go-to guys on our team.”

Although Kreider chipped in an assist in Thursday’s 3-1 defeat to the rival Islanders at Barclays Center, there were many instances where he made the wrong decision. On one two-on-one break, he sent a wayward pass to no one in particular. It was just one of many misdirected passes and miscues made by Kreider throughout the night.

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Kreider did take a team-high six shots on Thursday, but few seriously threatened Isles netminder Jaroslav Halak. Too often, he didn’t take advantage of prime chances. It’s fair to say that Kreider is in a funk. Having just one goal in his last 11 games and being on pace to finish the season with just 12 goals isn’t cutting it.

The Blueshirts have taken the patient route with Kreider because they know something’s there. It’s clear that his speed can be game-changing and that he can be a force in all areas of the ice with his big body. You just wonder when it’s all going to click together for the Boxford, Massachusetts native. He’s supposed to be a factor, a heavy lifter, a go-to guy.

“I think everyone wants to be part of the core group — so they don’t get bumped, traded, moved, not re-signed,” Kreider told during the preseason. “Guys go in wanting to play well, do their job, fill their role, and help their team win. I think what everyone did over the summer was to position themselves better individually to help us take that next step. Because we’re right there — we’re right on the cusp.”

It’s time for Kreider to step up and deliver the goods. He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s entering the phase of his career where he should be taking the next step.

If the Rangers wish to meet the lofty goals they have set for themselves, they’re going to need Kreider to find his game.

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Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey