Rangers’ Chris Kreider scores 30 goals for 2nd time in his 30th birthday

You know, 30 would have been a big number for Chris Kreider until last season when he became the fourth player in Rangers history to score up to 50 goals in a season, after Vic Hadfield (50) , Adam Graves (52) and Jaromir Jagr (54).

Now, well, only 30 with 14 games left in the season?

“I spoke to the coaching staff and my goal was never to match last year or reach a certain number of goals,” Kreider told the Post after his two goals in the third period Thursday night took his total to 30 simultaneously with lifting the Rangers to a 4-2 Garden victory over the Penguins. “It’s been playing the right way and being part of a winning program.

“That’s what’s important.”

Kreider has scored six goals in his last 10 games and eight in his last 14 to reach 30 for the second time. Prior to last season, the top wing in a single season had peaked at 28 in 2016-17 and 2018-19. His two most productive scoring seasons came at ages 30 and 31. This does not reflect the common career arc.

“It’s about the team, right?” Kreider said. “And with the kind of depth we have, it reminds me of the teams we had here my early years when we were going deep into the playoffs.”

Chris Kreider celebrates after his first half goal.
Chris Kreider
Robert Sabo for NY Post

Rangers didn’t quite rack up 60 minutes on Thursday. They allowed the Penguins to stay long enough to tie the score 2-2 midway through the third period after the Blueshirts dominated the first period with an impressive ground attack that kept the puck under the Pittsburgh hash marks for shifts at a time.

This one didn’t have the bite of last Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, in which the Penguins won 3-2 in overtime in a choppy affair that sometimes went awry. There wasn’t much of that on Thursday, although there was an isolated exchange of elbows to the head in the first half, with Tyler Motte catching Jeff Petry with a forward as Motte, the fourth line circular saw Blueshirts, don’t take one in turn. by Pierre Olivier-Joseph.

Some damage, no faults.

Rangers seem to be taking advantage of their out-of-this-world talent in the top six. They are 4-0-1 in their last five games while securing a 10-point lead in third place over the Penguins. The effort no longer seems riddled with angst. The Blueshirts get to know each other as head coach Gerard Gallant uses a four-line rotation.

To wit: Fourth-row center Barclay Goodrow got 13:16 of ice time, while front-row center Mika Zibanejad clocked 17:54. Again, rolling in the depths.

“The depth we have is so impressive, everyone talks about the top six, but we have the third line with [the Kids] holding the offensive zone and we have this fourth line with Goody, Motter and Veese [Jimmy Vesey] that moves the puck down the ice and it’s so hard to play against.

“We had a good team last year. We had depth. But we didn’t have such depth.

In fact, as Kreider sat back, he thought back to the start of his career, when the Blueshirts went to the Conference Finals three times in four years and the Stanley Cup Finals once, in 2015. That group of teams has always served as a point of reference for Kreider, the team’s senior player, who made his debut at age 20 in Game 3 of the 2012 first round against Ottawa.

Chris Kreider (centre) lets out a shout of celebration after scoring the go-ahead goal in Rangers' 4-2 win over the Penguins.
Chris Kreider (centre) lets out a shout of celebration after scoring the go-ahead goal in Rangers’ 4-2 win over the Penguins.
Getty Images

“Think about it,” he said. “Most of the time Rick Nash – Rick Nash – was playing on the second line and second power play unit.

“Come on.”

Kreider and running pal Mika Zibanejad were part of Rangers’ premier power play unit for over five years. It was automatic. Rangers would go for the human advantage. Kreider and Zibanejad jumped over the boards. Period after period, match after match, season after season.

But now, well, not so fast. Kreider and Zibanejad are one half of a 1A-1B rotation in which, through five games, units have alternate starts. During that short streak, Kreider is fifth among power-play forwards, while Zibanejad is sixth.

“How would you like to be the opposition shooting coach planning the game against our various options?” Kreider said. “We all want to be part of it and we all gladly make the necessary adjustments to improve our team.

“It’s not about yourself. It’s about the team. Kaner [Patrick Kane] used to have 24-25 minutes, Vladdy [Tarasenko] is accustomed to getting great minutes. They take less for us to be more. If you play a little less, you have the energy to move your feet more, to forecheck, to throw an extra check.

“That’s what a successful team is.”

Leave a Comment