Thursday, October 31, 2013

N.Y. Rangers: Stock In Chris Kreider Showing Net Gains


Buffalo   0
Rangers  2

NEW YORK RANGERS: Chris Kreider Is Benefiting From Vigneault's Patience, And Is Gaining More Confidence With Every Shift.  With The Huge Void Left Behind By Rick Nash, Kreider Now Has Goals In Back To Back Games.


The Rangers first faced the New York Islanders featuring Thomas Vanek, then faced the Buffalo Sabres Thursday featuring Matt Moulson.  While the winds of change blow through the NHL, the Rangers situation regarding their major imported star remains unchanged.  This evening, the Rangers were no closer to estimating Rick Nash's ability to lace up the skates than they were two week ago.

Rick Nash last played on October 8th against San Jose.  He has now missed nine of the Rangers twelve games this season with concussion symptoms.  This was his second known concussion within the last year.  The club has issued no updates.

I have wanted the Rangers to trade for Rick Nash for quite some time.  I always felt Rick Nash was uniquely big, fast, tough, and offensively skilled.  I also felt he played in a tough division, the former Central Division, versus Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Nashville.  I have deliberated at length over this, but more and more lately, I'm thinking I may have been completely wrong about Nash.  Did I miss-read him from afar?  Concussions aside, he has never seemed right since his arrival.  I do not want to kick a man while he's down, but I feel he showed up soft last season.  He never seemed to throw his body around like I envisioned.  Even more puzzling was how little he did to defend himself.

Enter Chris Kreider.  The twenty-two year old is finally benefiting from patience exhibited by his coach.  Sure, necessity is the mother of all invention, and with Nash, Callahan, and Hagelin out at the time, Kreider was pressed into service.  Tonight was his fifth game of the season.  He's been throwing his body around with confidence, and scored his second goal of the season against Buffalo Thursday night.  He was up to six shots on goal within the first two periods.

The Rangers peppered Ryan Miller with thirty-eight shots in the first two periods alone, forty-six overall, and generally had their way with a struggling, rebuilding (now 2-12) Buffalo Sabres team.

Derek Stepan's figurative training camp seems almost over.  He is stringing together strong shift after strong shift.  He also had seven shots on goal against Ryan Miller to lead all skaters.  I now believe it's only a matter of shifts before Stepan's shots start finding the back of the net more frequently.

I guess we'll never find out what ailed Henrik Lundqvist. It seems academic now.  The King recorded his second shutout of the season, and the 47th of his career.

The Rangers win their first game at home, and have won back to back games for the first time this season.  They have now won three of their last four games.


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