Chris Kreider was never guaranteed any playing time during the playoffs, and Kreider said himself that all he was focusing on was “being a sponge” when around the players and coaches. A Carl Hagelin suspension gave John Tortorella little choice but to insert Kreider into the lineup. Tortorella protected Kreider and limited him to an average of 8:15 in games three through six. and keeping him off special teams for the most part.
For Game Seven, obviously the most important game of the series, it appears that John Tortorella will be limiting Kreider on longer.
Torts says he has “no hesitation” to use Chris Kreider “in all situations tonight.”
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) April 26, 2012
Part of this decision is likely that there are a few forwards banged up and so a fresh, young player like Kreider is needed, but Kreider also has played himself into this situation. He was definitely an impact player in Game Six, scoring a goal and showing confidence with the puck on his stick. The ultimate sign that John Tortorella has confidence in a player is his willingness to play them at the end of a game, and Tortorella did in fact put Kreider on the ice in the final minutes of a close game.
Of corse it’s only one game, but this is a big test for Kreider in the short-term. A productive game from him (and a Rangers win obviously) could earn him a prominent role further into the playoffs.