Am I in the fucking Twilight Zone? How is losing Chris Kreider for the rest of the Rangers‘ playoff push, let alone potentially some of the post-season, not a big deal? That’s been some of the feedback I’ve seen on Twitter. I’m not trying to say he’s an All-Star. The kid’s game has room to grow. Still, on a team as soft as theirs, the Blueshirts can ill afford to lose him. His speed puts defenses on their heels. His forechecking creates opportunity for his teammates. He’s been on the ice for more even strength goals than any other forward despite being outside the top half in average minutes. He leads the team in +/- by a decent margin and has more hits than the other 5 top-6 forwards combined. Kreids isn’t gonna win a Selke any time soon, but he’s far from a defensive liability and, although it’s sad to say, he’s the meanest guy they’ve got. Philly is a tough enough matchup as it is – but without Kreider, there’s no answer for Hartnell & Simmonds. At this point, I’d rather slip into a wild card slot and take on the Pens.
We’ll see what happens. JT Miller will most likely step into Kreider’s skates and, although he played well when he was up last, he’s not ready to make a difference. For those calling for Ryan Haggerty, that move doesn’t make sense. He’s ineligible for the playoffs, so Miller should be the guy. If Marty St. Louis can start producing, then JT doesn’t have to do much other than not be terrible. The Blueshirts have gotten away with Marty’s invisible act on the stat sheet so far, but it’s possible the loss of wheels and motor on Step’s wing could cool down his hot streak. Points might have to come from somewhere else and it’s about damn time MSL thanks NY for getting him out of TB. If that happens, great. If Miller can hold his own, awesome. Still, no one’s bringing to the table what Kreider does. It’ll be just a matter of whether or not they can make up for it elsewhere – and there’s no better time to find out than against the Flyers tonight.