Taking a look at Chris Kreider’s fabulous season

Nov 24, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the third period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the third period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

During the 2018 regular season, the New York Rangers sent out “The Letter” to their fans, informing them that they would see many of their favorite players go over the upcoming seasons in an effort to rebuild the roster. We witnessed household names and fan favorites get shipped out. Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Marc Staal, and even Henrik Lundqvist.

Chris Kreider was the only Ranger of the successful group from the past to stick around and find his way on to the next successful team. During the 2019-20 season, his last before unrestricted free agency, he was in trade rumors all year. When the new year sprung in 2020, he ripped off 20 points in just 18 games. He instead earned himself a lengthy contract extension of seven years with an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.

Throughout his Rangers career, Kreider has always been reliable. When healthy, he can always be counted on for a 20 goal season. He’s also been a mainstay on the power play, camping in front of goaltender utilizing his big frame. This season, 48 percent of his goals have come with the man advantage.

Every year, we have seen his leadership qualities develop. comments.  His own postgame comments and interviews with his young teammates reveal how much they value his presence in the locker room. What he brings to the Rangers off of the ice is immeasurable. This season, he is practically the captain of the team. He just doesn’t have the letter “C” on his chest.

This season, we have seen the best of Chris Kreider. He currently has 25 goals in just 40 games, putting him on a 50-goal pace.  That would shatter his career high in goals and he is even close to being a point-a-game player, on a pace for 70 points.  When watching games, it always seems that his goals are extremely timely.  His goal against Toronto was crucial, giving the Rangers a two goal cushion.

His new contract had been trending in a bad direction, especially with the salary cap not increasing like it was expected to (due to COVID). But this year he has lived up to his contract, and his market value has likely surpassed the number of $6.5 million.

What else has been admirable about Chris Kreider? This season he has proved to be durable. Back in the 2017-18 season, he had a scary blood clot injury. He somehow made it back for the end of that season and went on a nice tear. . Four days after signing that big contract in 2020, he broke his foot blocking a shot and missed the rest of the regular season.

This year, he has dressed for all 40 games, and plays like a warrior every night despite his injury history.

What have been the primary reasons for Kreider’s career year at age 30?   Let’s take a look.

Finding consistency

While Kreider was always a reliable piece to the Rangers top six throughout his twenties, he had a reputation for inconsistency. There was never any in between. Chris Kreider either played like the hottest player on earth or was invisible.

When he was on, it was a treat to watch. When he wasn’t, fans grew frustrated. The 2019-20 season exemplifies this. To start the season he only posted 13 points in 28 games. Through his last 35 games of that season he posted  32 points.

This season Kreider has shown up on and off the stat sheet, night in and night out. He hasn’t hit a single cold stretch thus far. He has been the embodiment of reliability for the team in 2021-22.

200-foot game

The other recipe for success to Kreider’s game this season is the evolution of his two way game. He has never been a liability in his own end, but he has become an actual difference maker. He is backchecking harder than ever. He is blocking more shots. Almost every game he makes a noticeable play in the defensive zone.

The most impressive part of this development is his performance on the penalty kill. The primary forwards deployed on the PK have been Mika Zibanejad, Barclay Goodrow and Kevin Rooney. That fourth spot has either been filled by Ryan Strome, Greg McKegg and Kreider. We’ve seen Kreider’s PK time increase lately because of his excellent play.

His speed is an element that can make his penalty killing extra dangerous, as he utilized it this past week to get up ice and net a short handed goal against the Sharks.

He is a reason why the Rangers penalty kill is the third best in the NHL.

Chris Kreider’s efforts this season have not only been noticed by Ranger fans. The league is taking notice. He was selected to this year’s All-Star Game in Las Vegas. He will participate in the fastest skater contest again after finishing third two years ago behind Matt Barzal and Connor McDavid.

Something else to mention is that Kreider has played in 80 playoff games, second only to Ryan Reaves on the team.  He knows how to change his game up in the postseason. If the Rangers make their way to the playoffs, don’t be surprised if Kreider is their most important player.

It has been refreshing for Ranger fans to witness the season that Kreider is putting together. We’ve seen him grow up in this organization and found a way to stick around when everyone else was on their way out. He has had to warm up to several new locker rooms and has taken control of the current one like a true leader.

He has been an X-factor all season. This team would not be in the position it is in without him. We all hope that he can continue this success throughout the latter half of the season and sustain a high level of play on both sides of the ice in years to follow. Chris Kreider has always been liked by Ranger fans, but this season he has become a fan favorite.

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