New York Rangers: Why Chris Kreider Is So Dominant On The Power Play

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider has been the team’s number one source of goals this season. His eight scores lead the team, as do his five power play goals. He posted his third career hat trick in Wednesday night’s loss to Philadelphia and has scored in two straight. In other words, the longest-tenured Ranger has been magnificent around the net – especially on the power play. It’s no coincidence he’s tied with eight other players for the third-most power play goals in the NHL though. His ability to control the ice in-front of the net has turned him into a goal-scoring machine.

What Makes Chris Kreider so Good on the Power Play:

 His Ability to Find Open Space Around the Net

Very few do a better job of finding open space around the net than Kreider. The former first-rounder has virtually made a name for himself strictly by plucking off goals in the crease. Each time Kreider steps on the ice he makes a point of gaining position by the net and waiting for an opportunity to strike. Sometimes that opportunity is a rebound off a wrist-shot from 20 feet out, while other times it’s a tip-in off a slap-shot from the blue line. He’s always waiting to cash-in, game after game.

Kreider positions himself to the right of Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott perfectly. There’s not a single defenseman within reach of him when the puck ricochets off Elliott, giving him a wide-open net to score on.

The Flyers, like every other NHL team that has played the Rangers in the Kreider-era, failed to correct their mistake the next period as well.

This time Kreider waits for Zibanejad to set him up with a picture-perfect pass and cashes in once again. Just like his first goal of the game, there’s no defender to impact his shot. You’d think teams would do a better job of locating him by now, right? Considering he has been tormenting penalty-killing teams for his entire career, after all.

His Ability to Stay Calm Under Pressure

Not all goals will be as easy as the ones from Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia unfortunately, but that isn’t a problem for Kreider. For years he has been able to send the biscuit into the oven despite players draped all over him. He never feels pressure and always remains calm.

The clip above is from a game against Vancouver in 2013. Notice anything about No. 20 in blue? He’s positioned in-front of the net for the entirety of the possession, patiently waiting for a shot-on-goal that he can redirect into the twine. And when former-captain Ryan McDonagh sends a wrist-shot into the pile-up of skaters outside the net, Kreider capitalizes. Despite Vancouver’s Chris Tanev effort to interrupt Kreider’s concentration, the power play goal is scored.

Nearly eight years later and nothing has changed.

He Makes the Most of His Chances

No member of the Blueshirts makes more of their minutes than Kreider. His average ice-time of 17:27 is the fifth-most among forwards on the team, and yet, as mentioned earlier, he leads the team in goals with eight. What makes his goal-tally even more impressive though is how few shots he has taken. He has converted on eight of the 41 shots he has taken this year, an absurd success-rate of 23.5% – the highest on the team.

For perspective, only eight other players in the NHL with at least eight goals scored have converted on at least 23.5% of shots taken. Furthermore, five of those eight players spend more time on the ice than Kreider each game, which provides them with more opportunities.

This is nothing new for Kreider, however. Although he has never averaged more than 17:30 of ice time in a season, the Massachusetts-native has scored 20+ goals in five of his eight seasons. An impressive 31.5% of his career goals have occurred on the power play. All while being one of the speediest skaters on Broadway for the last decade.

It’s not by chance that Kreider is having a strong 2021 season on the power play. The guy knows how to get the puck into the net and has shown no signs of slowing down in year number nine. Nor will he slow down until someone invents a tactic to keep him out of the crease.

Chris Kreider hat trick wasted as the New York Rangers fall to the Flyers

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers valiantly rallied from a two-goal deficit but the comeback fell just short as the Blueshirts fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. The Rangers were playing without some of their top players, missing such key pieces as
Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, K’Andre Miller, Filip Chytil, and Jacob Trouba. Miller was lost to the team when he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Earlier on Wednesday, the NHL postponed Thursday’s game between the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights due to a player entering the COVID-19 protocols. However, the Rangers-Flyers game was allowed to proceed.

“We’d love to have all of our guys healthy and ready to go,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “We’re no different than most teams in the league. We don’t have that luxury right now.”

Igor Shesterkin made 35 saves for the Blueshirts (6-8-3), which had won three in a row on the road. The Rangers were outshot in this game 39-27.

Chris Kreider nets a hat trick for the New York Rangers

Chris Kreider was the star of the night by scoring all three goals for the Rangers. It was his third career NHL hat trick and his first since Dec. 31, 2016, at Colorado. Kreider was also the first Ranger who registered a hat trick against the Flyers since Ryan Callahan on Feb. 11, 2012, at Philadelphia.

Two of Kreider’s goals were scored on the power-play. Kreider has now registered two power-play goals in a game for the fourth time in his NHL career and for the first time since Nov. 15, 2018, at the Islanders.

Claude Giroux had three assists in his return from a COVID-19 absence but the Flyers still played without Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, and Scott Laughton because of COVID protocols.

The Rangers return to action on Friday when they host the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 P.M.








Great effort propels the New York Rangers to victory

New York Rangers, Ryan Strome

It might be a bit of a reach to say this might have been one of the better efforts from the New York Rangers this season. At the very least, it was their best game in quite a while.  Alexis Lafrenière scored his second NHL goal as the Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 4-1.

Mika Zibanejad sealed the game with an empty-netter with 2:12 left. The Blueshirts have strung together back-to-back wins for just the second time this season.

Ryan Strome hits two “century” marks for the New York Rangers

By recording an assist on Chris Kreider‘s goal, Strome garnered his 100th career point with the Rangers. He later picked up his 100th career NHL goal when he scored at 18:43 of the second period.

In his post-game interview, Strome was very pleased with the team’s effort. “I thought we had a good team effort. It might be a bit of a cliche but I thought everybody played very well.”

New York Rangers break the “close” game trend

In winning this game by three goals, the Rangers broke a bit of a string. Twelve of the Rangers’ last 13 games, and 12 of the team’s 15 games this season, have been decided by two or fewer goals. Nine of those contests have been decided by one goal. Also, four of the Blueshirts’ last nine games have been decided in either overtime or a shootout. The Rangers’ nine one-goal games in 2020-21 are tied for the sixth-most in the NHL. Their 12 games decided by two or fewer goals are tied for the eighth-most in the league.

Igor Shesterkin only allowed one goal on 27 Washington shots on goal. The Rangers have held their opponents to two goals or fewer in six of the last eight games and seven of the last 10 games. Going into the game, the Blueshirts have allowed 2.67 goals against per game in 2020-21, which is tied for the ninth-fewest in the NHL.

Artemi Panarin picked up two assists in the game. He has tallied eight assists/points in his last three games against Washington (including his two assists today). He has also registered a point in each of his last seven games against the Capitals (five goals, seven assists).

With Sunday’s game against the Capitals rescheduled, the Rangers will be back in action Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.





Plenty of blame to go around following another disappointing loss by Blueshirts

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

The New York Rangers need to take a look in the mirror this morning and decide if they are happy with who is looking back at them following another terrible loss on Tuesday night.

The Rangers have been on the wrong side of games this season not due to a lack of hustle or heart but because they have been beaten by teams with more experience and timely talent. Prior to Tuesday night’s game, each of the Rangers’ last 11 games, and 11 of the team’s 13 games this season, have been decided by two or fewer goals.

Tuesday night’s loss had nothing to do with being defeated by a better team and everything to do with a team’s top players’ failure to score goals when they are needed most, and a team that seems to not be hearing its head coach.

Injuries Are Not To Blame

The club is battling the injury bug in a big way currently.  Philip Chytil, Jack Johnson, Artemi Panarin, K’Andre Miller were all out of the lineup last night.  Defenseman Jacob Trouba left the game last night with an upper-body injury and did not return.

Injuries are something every club endures throughout a season. It can sometimes be a reflection of a final score or lack of production on the ice. The issue here for the Blueshirts has nothing to do with injuries, that is something that can be overcome or at the very least managed until the troops return.

The effort is the main culprit.

Frustration Sets In

The top player in this club has not been doing their job lately and the frustration is becoming apparent.  Players are squeezing the sticks a little tighter, taking poor penalties, seem a step behind the play because they are thinking more than playing. All are the definition of a struggling NHL hockey player.

Great players can skate their way out of the slump, find a good aspect in their game, and build on it. Sometimes the player will find himself in quicksand. One bad thing happens, then another, then another, and then a game is lost.

Mika Zibanejad is the team’s most important player. He is the number one center, the most relied upon by the coaching staff, and a mentor to the younger guys on the team.

Yet, Zibanejad can not seem to get out of his own way. He is beginning to play undisciplined hockey, he is second-guessing everything that goes on during the game and as now appear he has become so down on himself he is not winning draws or taking shots on goal.

Reviewing Tuesday night’s game stats and the frustrations of Zibanejad shows how bad things are going for him.

Mika had 25 shifts and 19:50 minutes of time on ice yet he only managed to get four shots on goal. His second-period elbow penalty, which was out of anger rather than just a bad penalty, resulted in a Devils power-play goal and a 1-0 deficit at the time.

You can’t score goals if you don’t shoot the puck.

Zibanejad is not the only reason for the team’s struggles, he is just the most noticeable. Chris Kreider has just four goals, Pavel Buchnevich, 4G, 9 PTS, Ryan Strome, 4G, 6 PTS, are all responsible for the slow start to the season.

The Head Coach Needs To Do More

Head coach David Quinn is feeling the pressure of the stalled season and he should be since he is the captain of a boat taking on water in Rangerstown.

The defense has played much better over the last eight games.  The one-goal games are a reflection of a strong defensive presence that has actually covered up for the sub-par goaltending early on in the season. Quinn can take the credit for the defense, but this improvement seems to be the result of assistant coach Jacques Martin’s hard work and experience.

Quinn cannot teach a player how to put the puck in the net, that is obvious. A good head coach puts players into positions where they can be the most successful. He places players in line combinations where the skill between the three linemates can defend on one side of the ice and explode with a fleury of scoring chances on the other side of the ice.

It is also his responsibility to move players around to different lines to help them find success on the ice.

It is responsible to inquire why players such as Zibanejad and Kreider have held their spots while players like Kaapo Kakko, Buchnevich, Brett Howden have been shuffled up and down the lineup to try to get their game back on track.

Zibanejad could use a game on the third line not as a punishment, but as a way to rejuvenate his game again. The status quo of Mike centering the top line is stale right now. Quinn needs to move him and Kreider at least for a game and see how things progress.

To continue to do the same repetitive things over and over with the same result will not lead to a better outcome. It leads to anarchy, it results in many losses and eventually a change in leadership behind the bench.

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter @RangerProud

How the New York Rangers lost to a team who has not played in two weeks

New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin

There is no other way the New York Rangers can describe their 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils except to realize that it was disappointing and somewhat embarrassing. Not only did they lose their fourth straight game, but they also lost to a team that has not played a game since January 31.

Due to multiple players being placed on the COVID-19 list, the Devils went 15 days without playing a game. Monday was the team’s only full practice since they were shut down on January 31. So how do the Rangers lose to a team in this situation?

For starters, they allowed goals by three Devils who have a combined five career NHL goals.

Some may point to the fact that the Rangers were without Filip Chytil, Artemi Panarin, and K’Andre Miller, and lost Jacob Trouba in the third period due to an upper-body injury. However, the Devils were also without Nico Hischier, Travis Zajac, Nikita Gusev, and Dmitry Kulikov.

Before we dive into some of the other details, we will start by letting the Rangers explain what they think the issues were.

The New York Rangers react to the loss

After the game, Mika Zibanejad talked in his Zoom conference call about the team’s loss, especially giving up the winning goals in the third period. “I don’t think that for the whole game, we did not get up to the level of play we needed to. We had chances but it was not good enough for over sixty minutes. We are lacking a little bit of desperation, to be honest with you.”

A very frustrated Chris Kreider talked in his post-game Zoom conference about how the Devils outworked and outhustled the Rangers, especially in the first period. “That’s a team that is coming off a two-week break. I realize that they were probably pretty excited to getting back to hockey but that is an unacceptable start. For the majority of the game, they outhit us and outskated, and scored more battles. They flat out wanted it more and it is unacceptable.”

Later on, Kreider talked about the fact that the Rangers did not get a single chance on the power-play.

“It’s something that we have talked about and have been working on for the past couple of days,” Kreider said. “Honestly, it is part of the things I said earlier. Waiting to skate and not being physical, losing battles. There were obviously some shifts where we were buzzing in the offensive zone but obviously, it is not enough to go a full 60 minutes without drawing a power-play. That to me screams that we are not doing the right things away from the puck to support each other and to draw penalties.”

The New York Rangers wasted a solid effort from Colin Blackwell

Colin Blackwell and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers and each of the goals was significant for different reasons.

For Buchnevich, he ended a somewhat long goal drought with his goal that tied the game late in the second period. After the goal, Buchnevich celebrated by “throwing the monkey off his back”, signifying the frustration that he felt by his lack of scoring after a long period of time.

Blackwell opened the scoring for the Rangers, firing in a shot past Devil’s goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, after getting a nice pass from Brett Howden.

With that goal, Blackwell has tallied a point in four of six games with the Rangers (two goals, two assists). He has also registered nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last 12 NHL games.

The Rangers are getting strong production from workhorse players like Blackwell and Phil Di Guiseppe, but seem to be lacking some of that consistent from some of the skill players.

This is something that head coach David Quinn addressed in his post-game Zoom conference by saying “We will be talking about all this before practice, during practice, and after practice tomorrow.”

With their 14th game being played, the Rangers have reached the 1/4 mark of their 56 game season. There is still time to turn things around, but it needs to happen quickly if the Rangers want to make a run at the playoffs.

The Rangers will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on the Flyers.












Are expectations too high for this year’s New York Rangers?

New York Rangers

After making the play-in round of last year’s playoffs, winning the NHL draft lottery, and selecting Alexis Lafreniere, many thought that the New York Rangers should be making a run at the playoffs. After losing their last three games and seeing their season record fall to 4-6-3, many are thinking that the Rangers are underachieving through their first 13 games.

While the Rangers are not happy with their play, there are many factors in play as to why this year’s Blueshirts are just four points behind the Islanders for the last playoff spot.

That is really not that far away, even in a 56 game season.

The biggest thing to remember is that the average age of a player on the Rangers’ active roster this season is 25.6 years old, which is the youngest in the NHL. The Rangers have seven players 22 years old or younger on their active roster (Chytil, Fox, Howden, Kakko, Lafrenière, Lindgren, and Miller), and the Blueshirts have had more players who are 22 years old or younger play at least one game this season than any other NHL team.

Sure it is disappointing to see the overall number one draft pick have only one goal for one point on the season. Especially when one sees another rookie like Pius Suter of the Chicago Blackhawks not only get his first NHL goal recently but ended that game on January 23 against the Red Wings with a hat trick. Suter currently leads all rookies in scoring with 9 points.

Yes, it is frustrating to see that 40 other NHL rookies have more points than their overall number one pick.

But Lafreniere’s issues are just one of many other issues that the Rangers are having this year.

Outside of Artemi Panarin, many other Rangers are struggling. Mika Zibanejad has one goal in 13 games. Kaapo Kakko two in 12, Pavel Buchnevich one in his past 11. Players in the bottom six are also struggling such as Phil Di Giuseppe with no goals in 12, Brett Howden none in 13, Brendan Lemieux one in 12. Chris Kreider’s has four goals, but no assists.

After Friday night’s loss, head coach David Quinn summed his team’s frustrations in his post-game Zoom conference when he said “We pass when we should shoot and we shoot when we should pass.”

However, with all of the issues that the Rangers have had, there is still a silver lining that Quinn also mentioned in his post-game Zoom conference. “These games are going to be so valuable for our young players moving forward,” Quinn said. “Like I said, you can learn an awful lot from a team (Boston) like that. You’ve got to pay attention to teams that have sustained success for as long as they have. We’re trying to get to the level of the Bergerons and the Marchands and the Pastrnaks, the Krejcis.… These guys have been competing for Stanley Cup championships for a long time, close to a decade.

“It’s a great experience for our players. But at the end of the day, we’re not here for great experiences. We’re here to win hockey games and these are two hockey games we feel like we could have won.”

It is not like the Rangers have been blown out in the games they lost. Eleven of the Rangers’ 13 games have been decided by two goals or fewer, eight of those by one goal.

At some point, a young and talented team should be able to turn this around and start winning these one-goal games.

The Rangers and their fans hope this happens sooner rather than later. But make no mistake about it, this will happen at some point in the future.





Rangers’ Chris Kreider defends Mika Zibanejad in post game Zoom call

New York Ranger’s right-winger Chris Kreider looked frustrated when he sat at the table for the team’s post-game zoom call with the media following Monday night’s 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

His team played a strong defensive game but for a span of 2:05 of the third period where the Islanders were able to put two pucks behind Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin.

During the Zoom presser, Kreider was asked a question that clearly added to his frustration.

Do you think Mika Zibanejad is playing at 100 given the fact that his production is so low?

Kreider paused before answering the question, his facial expression was one of aggravation to be asked such a question, but he answered it with class and professionalism that is expected from the veteran player.

I mean, regardless if a guy is playing it 100% or not I mean we’re we’re NHL players we’re professionals most guys are dealing with bumps and bruises some guys are playing through worse injuries or sicknesses. But I’m not I’m not going to speak to that that’s something that’s, that’s, you know, stays in the room obviously but yeah he’s played 100%, he’s he’s doing an unbelievable job defensively. He’s, he’s got the tough matchup every single night he’s getting defensive zone draws and in my mind he’s eating up the top players in the league and he’s not. He’s not exactly getting, you know the ozone starts that he would necessarily get because he’s he’s drawing those hard matchups so I think he’s been doing a bang up job. And he’s doing everything he can to help our team win.

Zibanejad had a great night in the circles, winning 85% of the face-offs he took winning 11 out of 13 draws. Adding to what Kreider said about Zibanejads defensive work, Mika won 5 out of 6 defensive draws on Monday night which was 83% efficient.

It is hard to score when you don’t shoot a lot of pucks at the net, Zibanejad was only credited with three shots on goal despite having 25 shifts and 19:30 of ice time.

The Rangers will take on the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night at the Garden. NBCSN has the coverage beginning at 7 p.m.



New York Rangers fall short in a defensive struggle against the Islanders

In a hard-fought, defensive-minded game, the New York Rangers came up just a bit short against their cross-town rivals, the New York Islanders by the score of 2-0.

The game was scoreless after two periods but two third-period goals within a span of two minutes spelled doom for the Blueshirts.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots on the night in earning his third shutout of the season, two of which have come against the Rangers. He became the first Islanders goaltender to have two shutouts in a season against the Blueshirts.

The Rangers had an excellent chance to score in the third period when Artemi Panarin had a breakaway courtesy of a K’Andre Miller pass but was stopped by Varlamov.

Igor Sheskerkin had 28 saves in the loss.

After the game, Chris Kreider summed up the loss in his Zoom conference by saying: “Any time you lose, it’s frustrating. When you feel like you defended pretty well for the entirety of the night, and you give up 30 seconds or a minute of kind of getting away from your structure and the puck ends up in the back of the net. We have got to play a full 60, no matter who we are playing in our division.”

Head coach David Quinn echoed those sentiments in his post-game Zoom conference. “I didn’t think we played fast enough offensively,” Quinn said. “We really allowed them to stay in their structure, which they are very good at. I thought we had some great chances in the third period and we just couldn’t capitalize.”

The Rangers will host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, in a nationally broadcasted game on NBCSN, The Rangers are in the middle of an eight-game homestand, their longest of the season. This was made possible by several changes to the NHL schedule because of COVID-19.





The New York Rangers overcome a turbulent weekend to defeat the Pens

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

You could have understood if the New York Rangers were distracted by the previous 48 hours. But instead, they set the distractions aside and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by the score of 3-1.

The win came after a tough weekend following the altercation between Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev after the Ranger’s overtime loss last Saturday night.

Before the game, general manager Jeff Gorton told the media via a Zoom Conference that DeAngelo has played his final game for the New York Rangers despite going unclaimed on waivers. The decision came after a warning from the organization about his behavior and the “incident” he was involved in.

In addition to not having DeAngelo, the Rangers were also without Colin Blackwell, who will miss 7-10 days, as well as Kaapo Kakko, who was placed on the league’s COVID protocol list.

Igor Shesterkin started in net and made 25 saves in the victory.

However, the save of the night may have made by K’Andre Miller, who sacrificed his body to block a Pierre-Olivier Joseph shot that seemed destined for the back of the net.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists but it was Chris Kreider’s power-play goal at 11:10 of the third period that proved to be the game-winner. Kevin Rooney’s goal opened the scoring for the Rangers.

It was Kreider’s 161st goal with the Rangers, the second-most by an American-born player in team history behind Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch.

Head coach David Quinn was very pleased with the effort, especially under the trying situation. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our group.” Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference “It has been a very difficult 24 to 36 hours. The way we kind of came together, with the first period being shaky, we were kind of feeling our way through, I thought we were fortunate to get out being down only 1-0, but other than that we got back to doing some of the things that we were doing well in the early part of the season. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you play as one.”

The Rangers may be down another defenseman as Brendan Smith left the game in the first period after a collision with Penguins forward Brandon Tanev. Smith did not return with what was reported as an upper-body injury.

Both the Rangers and the Penguins will have games postponed against the New Jersey Devils, who have had multiple players placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.

The Ranger’s next game will be against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at MSG.





The New York Rangers fail once again to hold on to a third period lead

It will not go down as a defensive masterpiece as the New York Rangers let a third-period lead slip by as Sydney Crosby slammed a shot past Alexandar Georgiev to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-4 victory in overtime.

In the three-on-three overtime, the Penguins took advantage of the fact that the Rangers could not clear their own defensive zone, allowing the Penguins to bring fresh players on the ice three consecutive times before Crosby’s goal ended the game.

While the Rangers did take a little bit of advantage of the depleted Penguins defense, their own defensive efforts were equally lacking in the Saturday night game.

Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Kevin Rooney, and Brendan Lemieux scored for the Blueshirts. K’Andre Miller had two assists, and Georgiev made 33 saves in the loss.

The Rangers are now 1-5 in their last six games decided by a goal.

A very frustrated Kreider said in his post-game news conference said that “Yeah, this is a reoccurring thing at this point. We’ve shown what we can do in spurts what we need to do to be successful by cranking up the intensity in the third period but then we get away from it and we start going east-west and not advancing it in the zone. You don’t win at the NHL level doing that.”

Head coach David Quinn addressed the lack of holding leads in the third period during his post-game Zoom Conference. “We’ve had a bad of a period as we had all year. They beat us to every loose puck, they beat us in every battle. They (the Penguins) were smarter and looked like a little hungrier team than we were in the third period.”

Quinn also addressed that lack of solid defense by the Rangers in this game. “We were very soft around our net. We haven’t said that a lot throughout the season. They upped the ante in the third period and we were not able to match it.”

The two teams face off again on Monday night.