In Game Six, Chris Kreider moves the puck up ice against Matt Niskanen.
While it’s fair to say that Chris Kreider is among the main reasons that the Rangers are still battling for a Stanley Cup, it’s also fair to say he’s had help.
Since joining forces in Game 2 of the series, Kreider, Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast have been the Rangers’ most productive trio. Kreider, of course, has been at the center in turning the series around. He scored the game-tying goal in Game 5 with just 1:41 to play in the Rangers season and then screened Braden Holtby on Ryan McDonagh’s overtime game-winner. He then ignited the offense in Game 6 with a pair of first-period goals which led to a 4-3 win.
In four trips to the postseason, the 24-year-old now has an impressive 27 points (16 goals, 11 assist) in 52 games entering Game 7, including five goals in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. While Kreider admits he’s playing “powerful” hockey, he acknowledged what his teammates have meant to his production.
“I’m not sure what my numbers are per se, but I’d be willing to bet that they’re pretty similar to what I got in the regular season,” Kreider said after Tuesday’s practice. “If there’s any bump, it’s because I’m playing with Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast and a team full of guys that know how to raise their level during playoff time. That’s why we’ve had so much success over the past couple of years.”
Stepan provided the primary assists on Kreider’s and McDonagh’s tallies in Game 5 as well as a secondary assist on Kreider’s last second power play goal in Game 6. Fast had a helper on McDonagh’s Game 5 game-winner as well as Kreider’s opening goal 40 seconds into Game 6. Postseason production is expected out of Stepan, who, like Kreider, has played plenty of playoff hockey in his young career. But Fast is relatively new to the postseason, save for three games during the Rangers run last season. The 23-year-old Swede has played exceptional against the Capitals by doing the little things.
“That’s his game,” Kreider said of Fast. “We can all learn from him even though he’s a young guy like myself. He does do a lot of little things, (plays) a lot of detail-oriented hockey. He’s a workhorse too, always churning and moving his legs. He’s so smart and consistent and responsible defensively. Just another one of the guys on our team that is so easy to play with.”
NOTES: Both Ryan McDonagh and Derick Brassard were shaken up during Game 6, but both players finished out the game, skated at practice on Tuesday and will play in Game 7.
“I feel good, no issues at all. Just excited to play at home tomorrow,” said McDonagh, who did not take exception to Alex Ovechkin’s hit that knocked him out of the game for a few minutes. “I just wanted to make sure everything was solid there. Mostly catch my wind a little bit. It got knocked out there.”
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