The New York Rangers were getting ready for the final push for the playoffs. They had won four straight games and had a thrilling comeback victory last night against the Phoenix Coyotes. All the smiles on the players and fans faces dissipated today when news broke that Chris Kreider broke his fan and will be out for a month.
Kreider is technically still a rookie, even though he has been in the NHL for two years. He debuted during the 2012 playoffs and was sent up and down between the NHL and AHL last season. But this season he has been a mainstay on broadway.
After starting the season in the AHL, Kreider was called up after a couple of games and has been a force ever since. His speed has been a huge asset and head coach Alain Vigneault has found a way to utilize Kreider’s strengths, not dwell on his weaknesses.
But with Kreider out, the Rangers are going to be missing an element they lack right now — size. Besides Rick Nash and Brian Boyle, Kreider is the Rangers’ biggest forward and plays the most physical. He has a great combination of size and blazing speed that make him so valuable. He is always willing to throw the body around and the Rangers will miss that.
They are also going to have to fill his spot on their top line of Nash and Derek Stepan. This line has been kept in place for most of this season and has clicked. Even though they go through some scoring slumps, they were all just heating up. I would expect either Carl Hagelin or Martin St. Louis to be bumped up to that line.
With the one month timetable for this injury, the Rangers will definitely not have Kreider back by the start of the playoffs. This is a huge blow for their team. They must hope that Kreider is a fast healer and can get back in three weeks for the start of the playoffs.