The Rangers' Chris Kreider revelation
In the last minute of the Rangers' 2-1, series-clinching victory last night over the Ottawa Senators, the forwards on the ice for the Rangers were Ryan Callahan, the team's captain, Derek Stepan, who had set up the game's first goal, and Chris Kreider, who was still at Boston College a week before the NHL playoffs began.
Krieder only was added to the line-up after Carl Hagelin was suspended for a hit on Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson in Game Two; he played well enough to stay in the line-up when Hagelin returned in Game 6. Now, Rangers coach John Tortorella seems to be convinced that the team will need him if they are to win the Stanley Cup.
Kreider played more than 18 minutes in Game 7, the most in his five-game NHL career. In fact, it was the fifth-most minutes played by any forward in the game, ahead of such veterans as Marion Gaborik. He notched his first NHL goal in Game Six (see below), which turned out to be the game-winner in what was a must-win game.
Now Kreider and the Rangers will move on to face the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Capitals eliminated the Rangers in five games in the first round of last year's playoffs. Both teams are coming off hard-fought seven-game series. The teams split their four regular-season games, each winning once at home and once on the road.
Washington will be relying on their third-strong goalie, Braden Holtby, who has been pressed into service following injuries to the Capitals' regular two goalies, Michal Neuvirth and Tomos Vokoun. Holtby was Washington's version of Chris Kreider, helping the Caps oust the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the first round.