Optimus Klein, Kleinsenberg, or just Kevin Klein. Whatever you’ve come to calling him, the 30-year-old mainstay on the Rangers blue line is set to make his return for game one of their second round series against the Capitals following a six week absence with a fracture in his arm. After the year he had, his insertion into the lineup couldn’t come at a better time, and will further bolster an already strong and deep defense core which kept the Penguins at bay in round one.
In honor of his return, here’s a look back at some of the best Kevin Klein moments from the 2014-15 regular season, a year in which he registered nine goals, 26 points, and was a plus-24.
Overtime Winner, Vol. 1
It didn’t always feel like the Rangers were going to win the Presidents’ Trophy, and it certainly didn’t appear that way early on when they were 3-3 going into New Jersey back on October 21st. Despite trailing by two in the contest, the Rangers battled back in the third period in order to force overtime, and who was it who showed up to pot the winner at “The Rock?” Kevin Klein.
Overtime Winner, Missing Half of an Ear Edition
Alright, so maybe he wasn’t missing half of his ear, but Klein did lose a chunk of his ear during the first period of the December 8th matchup against the Penguins when he took a stick up high. After heading to the locker room and getting stitched up, Klein proceeded not only to return to the game, but he scored the winning goal in overtime too!
Prom? Sure, Why Not?
And how about the time Klein was asked to Prom and accepted? While not an on ice moment, it’s always nice to see players make fans feel good, and Klein most certainly did that back in November when he accepted a fan named Rachel’s request for him to go to prom with her in the spring. While the offer was contingent on whether or not the Rangers would have a game, Klein did say he would try to attend prom with her.
What a guy!
Now that it’s almost May and the Rangers are still indeed playing, Prom may not be in the cards for him, but it was a nice moment nonetheless.
A Good Teammate
And for all the smart, tight defense he plays on a nightly basis, Klein is also more than willing to throw down when needed. After his goaltender got bumped by Brandon Prust back in November, Klein was the first to challenge the Habs forward. While not known as a fighter, Klein was still up to the task to take on the tough guy in Prust, for when it came to defending a teammate, no task was too tall for the Ranger defenseman.
A Timely Goal
Finally, we’ll finish off this rundown of the year’s best Kevin Klein moments with his game winning goal in what was one of the craziest games of the season between the Rangers and the Islanders. In a wild back and forth contest, Klein put the icing on the cake for the Rangers when he scored the game’s sixth and final goal with 4:32 to play in regulation to give the Rangers the 6-5 win on Coliseum ice. It was a thriller in every sense of the word.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.