|In defeat, Chris Kreider continued to excel scoring a goal in Game Two.|
The Blueshirts' former first round pick in 2009 scored for a second straight game against the Devils on one of the biggest stages. After standing out with a goal and assist in their Game One win, Kreider again was a force down low, wreaking havoc. With the game tied, the two-time NCAA champ and former Team USA WJC (World Junior Championship) gold medalist parked his big body in front of future Hall Of Famer Martin Brodeur. As Artem Anisimov passed for Anton Stralman, the defenseman patiently waited for Kreider to get position before firing. With his back turned to Brodeur, Kreider got his shaft on the puck which eluded the Devil netminder.
At the time, Kreider's third point in two pulsating games steered the Rangers in front. Unfortunately, it was short lived with a bigger star guilty on Ryan Carter's momentum swinging goal late in the second period. The Devils would go onto take the game, sending the sixth installment of the Battle Of Hudson all even back to The Prudential Center for Game Three on Saturday. It'll be another test for the highly touted Boston kid who Ranger GM Glen Sather wouldn't give up when Columbus inquired with established NHL star Rick Nash available at the trade deadline.
You can see why they love him. He has the size the team lacks and the skill set to go along with it. For years, the Rangers have been devoid of a power forward who could take the abuse while driving opponents nuts. With Kreider, the future is now. He has the potential to become that home grown star the organization drafted high. The last such first rounder to make an impact is current blueliner Marc Staal, who already has been an OT hero and scored the club's first goal last night. That means that two Ranger No.1 picks scored both goals. A foreign concept in Manhattan. Though if you take a closer look at the roster, it's younger and boasts more kids than the Devils.
Thrown into the fire, Kreider has had his ups and downs this postseason. He nearly went from hero to goat. After scoring a huge goal to help the team avoid elimination in the first round, he notched the winner in Game One versus Washington. But then there was a giveaway right to Alex Ovechkin for a goal and a blown assignment, which drew the ire of the always moody John Tortorella. Suddenly, Kreider found himself in the dog house seeing limited action on the fourth line before the coach realized he needed him to play a bigger role in a do-or-die Game Seven. The Rangers won to advance to their first Conference Final in 15 years.
Thus far, it's No.20 who's been the best Blueshirt. Not only did he tally for a second consecutive game but nearly made it 3-1 with another shot finding Brodeur's best friend, the goal post. If it finds its way in, who knows. We could be talking about more Kreider heroics. The same rookie who also has come back defensively and admitted that the Ovechkin play still bugs him, vowing that he'll never do it again.
You might want to check his birth certificate if he keeps this up.