Chris Kreider was expected to take his game to another level this season, but thus far has been unimpressive. The big speedster has been non-existent in most games and in other games has shown only flashes of his immense talent. He’s always been a streaky player but after 29 games of this regular-season one has to take a step back and wonder if it’s the approach he’s taking to the game.
Kreider is a player blessed with incredible speed, and a powerful frame. When he’s at his best he’s skating in straight lines, getting defenders turned around, and throwing heavy checks. He is similar to Alexander Ovechkin in that he can change a game using his physical gifts. Of course mixed in with those gifts he needs to apply sound decision-making to remain responsible, but lately he looks like he’s too concerned with thinking about what to do and that hesitation is allowing plays to pass him by.
Now anybody who watches the Rangers knows that this is a team that loves to pass the puck and it seems that Kreider has gotten caught up in this philosophy and has stopped playing his game. When he’s at his best he zips around the ice letting guys find him, not the other way around.
Grinding Them Down
Kreider could benefit from a few games in a checking role. As I mentioned earlier, this guy is a physical specimen, so perhaps putting him in a role that requires less responsibility for a game or two could get him to start finding a rhythm. When we see him go shoulder to shoulder with guys we often time see him sent opponents flying.
Too often we see Kreider pull up and not finish a body-check and that mentality is hurting him. He should be a nightmare to defend; he has a great frame to play in the corners and explosive speed, and thus far he simply hasn’t been good enough down low. You would think that with such attributes that Kreider would be a force winning battles and finding takeaways, but so far he has only nine this season which ranks him 12th on the team.
I understand that people are worried about Kreider; in the past even when he wasn’t great he would still do some noticeable things on the ice, but this season he’s been non-existent in too many games. I wrote an article on October 29th, and explained that I thought Kreider would pick it up; and part of my reasoning was that he was showing flashes, and doing some good things, not getting much luck. Right now, the chances aren’t even coming.
On the bright side, all of his tools are intact, and he’s only 24-years-old; I understand that this is probably the worst funk he’s been in as a pro, but true talent can only remain dormant for so long. My feeling about Kreider is that he’s now been on the team for a few years and is starting to be looked at as a guy who needs to be a reliable veteran, instead of just a kid making a good impression, so it’s not an easy transition. I think that it will take one or two games where the big winger is throwing hits and generating chances for him to start feeling his confidence and really start his season.