Mar 25, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal with center Brad Richards (19), defenseman Michael Del Zotto (4) and center Brian Boyle (22) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center. The Rangers defeated the Flyers, 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Can Chris Kreider Live Up to the Hype?

Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider knows the type of player he can be. It’s just does he have enough time to really prove himself worthy, and prove himself as a top tier player for a Ranger team, that is waiting for him to finally shine and live the moment.

We remember Kreider entering the scene in the 2012 playoffs, as a young kid who just graduated college, won the NCAA national championship with the Boston College Eagles, and just signed his first professional contract.

Kreider shined during his first taste of the NHL playoffs, scoring 5 goals, and adding another two assists, and kept many Ranger fans eager at the thought of him playing next year in his first full pro season.

The lockout had a lot to do with us not being able to see Kredier right away, as he played for the Connecticut Whale, and seemed to struggle a bit. An early season ankle injury seemed to slow Kredier down, while he didn’t miss any time, his contributions were far less than what was expected, and many wondered if he really had all the tools to be a complete player.

Yes, the NCAA level is different then the NHL level, but the way Kreider made it seem, he made it seem as if the transition was going to be an easy one for him. And many people were surprised at how much of a step backwards his progress took.

Yet, when the season started former coach John Tortorella had him in there, he skated a few games for the team, before being sent to the Whale again. The term flip flop seems to fit here for Kreider, as he went back and forth between the Whale and the big club last season. He was able to stay on after a late surge for the Whale deemed himself good enough to make the postseason roster for the Rangers, and he was able to play late season games. Yet, there were times in close games that he was missing from the ice completely. Riding the bench.

He would compile 4-5 minutes those games, and seemingly it felt that Tortorella didn’t trust him, lost confidence in his young talent, which caused Kreider to lose confidence in himself, and rightfully so.

But now with Tortorella gone, its now on him. And so far this training camp he has turned a few heads with how impressed they are in his strength and ability.

During yesterday’s scrimmage we saw Kreider in front of the net, really using his body as a force to help screen the goalie. Use his body to check people into the boards, and skate. He’s known for his speed and he isn’t afraid to use it, but he’s going to have to be a complete player.

Kreider has said all the right things when the media has asked him questions on if Tortorella held him back in any way, saying the following:

He’s obviously a very good coach, that’s why he’s coaching another team in the NHL. I think I learned a ton and that’s pretty much all I can say about it. I definitely improved and progressed.

He’s going to be paired on a line tonight with another man who needs to find himself again in Brad Richards, and superstar Rick Nash. Kreider is slotted on the left side, and we expect that there is going to be a lot that Kreider has to show, that proves he deserves to be in a top six forward position as Hagelin and Callahan recover from shoulder injuries, and that no one else takes the spot away from him.

But even Kreider knows that at the end of the day its on him:

It’s up to me to take advantage of the opportunity.

And he’s more then right about that.

Tags: Alain Vigneault Chris Kreider John Tortorella New York Rangers Rick Nash

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