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Is it time to sit Chris Kreider for a few games? Addressing depth scoring

Bobby Bevilacqua

chris kreider celebrating 11-3

Chris Kreider is one of the most promising young players on the Rangers. But recently, he has had some lapses in his play. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Throughout the first 25 games of the season, the Rangers have not gotten off to the start that they had hoped for. The Blueshirts are currently 11-10-4, totaling 26 points, and a win out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Part of that has to do with the inconsistent play of many of their players. One of those guys is Chris Kreider, the second line, power forward, and skilled skater that has been a top six forward since he started in the 2012 playoffs.

Recently, Chris Kreider has been really struggling. Kreider has not found the back of the net in 10 games, and has four goals and nine assists in 24 games.

While that’s not necessarily terrible, it’s the inconsistency of scoring that really hurts. Kreider plays on the Rangers second line, alongside Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis, two very great offensive players. So why is he struggling so much?

Kreider plays with his heart on his sleeve, meaning that his emotions can sometimes get the best of him. This has been very noticeable lately, as his frustration has replaced his decision making skills. He hasn’t been getting quality shots lately, and has played lackadaisically recently, not covering his man or lagging behind the play, almost like how he was under John Tortorella, who handcuffed the young player in his rookie season.

Because he has been struggling to score, and has not been playing like himself, I think it would be a good idea to sit him for a game. Let him take a break, watch some film, and realize that his gameplan isn’t working. Kreider is an extremely talented player, and can certainly be more productive than he has been.

Kreider is not the only one who is not producing. Mats Zuccarello has been another player who has gotten off to a slow start. The Rangers leading point scorer last year, Zuccarello has just 10 points (4-6-10) in 23 games.

zuccarello hi-5 11-1

Mats Zuccarello is another Ranger who hasn’t been as productive as many have expected. The leading point scorer for New York last year only has 10 points so far, despite playing top-six minutes. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos

 

Despite not scoring, Zuccarello has been active in games, hitting the post a few times and always energizing the team. Zukes has been closer to scoring in the last few games, and should be able to turn it around soon, as well as Chris Kreider.

Zuccarello’s and Kreider’s scoring woes are not just issues that they are dealing with, it’s an issue that has hit many of the Rangers players. Out of the Rangers 81 goals this season, the trio of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Martin St. Louis has 35 of them. That is a bit concerning, as depth scoring was one of the Rangers strong points last season.

In order for this team to get better, the scoring will need to balance out. Until the fourth line of Dominic Moore, JT Miller, and Jesper Fast was formed, the Rangers bottom line could not buy a goal. Although Kevin Hayes is still in the process of developing, the third line of Kevin Hayes, Carl Hagelin, and Lee Stempniak has been less than stellar.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Six

Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello made up one of the best lines for the Rangers last season, despite being the third line. The Rangers need to get consistent scoring from all four lines in order to have success.

Last season, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and Beniot Pouliot were arguably the best line for the Rangers. And they were the third line. But the top two lines for New York were also a threat to score at any time. This meant that opponents had to be concerned no matter who was on the ice for the Blueshirts.

 

The Rangers need to get back to that kind of play, and have all of their forwards on the same page. Once Kreider, Zuccarello, Hagelin and others start consistently scoring, then the wins will start coming more consistently.

The defensive side of the Blueshirts hasn’t been great either. Because of injuries, the Rangers defenseman haven’t been able to play together that much and build chemistry. As they play more together, McDonagh, Girardi and others will get back to their top form.

As the defense progresses, they also need to start scoring goals. Kevin Klein leads defenseman in goals, with five, and Dan Boyle has two, and Dan Girardi has one. The defensemen have not been a huge part of the offensive game, and changing that would be huge for the team.

 

These are all correctable things, and something that Alain Vigneault is certainly capable of managing and dealing with.

Last season, the Rangers were 12-13-0 through their first 25 games, and that team turned things around for a run to the Stanley Cup Finals. So the season is certainly not out of reach. There is plenty of time, but it sure would be nice to see things turn around soon.

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Posted on December 8, 2014, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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