We've talked a lot this series about how speed is such an important factor to this series. For the Rangers, they haven't used it enough, and it has hurt them at times. But just 40 seconds into a crucial Game 6, Chris Kreider uses his speed (with a little help) to score an enormous goal.
Let's go to the clips:
This is the beginning of the play. After the puck bounces into the scrum (you can see them on the right hand of your screen) the puck is worked out to Jesper Fast.
I circled Karl Alzner because this highlights just how smart Fast has been as a player. Adam already talked about it on the Ryan McDonagh OT winner in Game 5, but this is another sterling example. Fast sees Kreider beginning to exit the zone, and because Alzner is trying to poke the puck from him, Fast knows Kreider is going to have an opportunity to break out unimpeded.
Fast throws the puck along the boards to Kreider, who as you can see above, has already used his speed to get behind Alzner. Again, it needs to be noted how smart of a pass this is by Fast, because Alzner needed to turn 180 degrees to face Kreider, and by then Kreider is already beyond him. The arrow is to show how far ahead of Kreider Matt Niskanen is before Kreider even has the puck.
Because of Kreider's speedy reputation, Niskanen doesn't even attempt to play the puck (which is just past the blue line here), instead opting (correctly in my opinion) to get in front of Kreider and the net.
Niskanen originally tries to cut off the angle, but Kreider's speed turns that into an impossibility. By the time Kreider has possession of the puck in the neutral zone he's already left Alzner in the dust, and he's slightly behind Niskanen -- who is churning to try and get in front of Kreider.
By the blue line Kreider has already used his speed to get the angle on Niskanen, who is relegated to simply trying to cover Kreider from behind. Kreider has already started shifting his momentum towards the middle of the ice to bring the puck into a better scoring area. The blue line shows Kreider's intention on the play, while the red line shows Niskanen's. The point here is to show how Kreider uses his speed to get to that point first, which sets up the goal. The arrow is pointing to Alzner to show just how far behind the play he is now which will come into play soon.
Kreider gets there first, and uses his enormous frame to position himself in front of Niskanen while keeping control of the puck. Kreider's also using his strength here to keep Niskanen at bay. You can actually see Niskanen pushing Kreider to try and work him off the puck.
This is after Kreider has already shot and scored (you can see the puck's trail in the net) but I included this frame to show how Kreider was able to turn his hips and turn Niskanen as well to position himself to score. Kreider gets his second hand on his stick as he brings the puck from his forehand to his backhand and fires it past Holtby. The triangle shows all the dangerous space Kreider opened up by forcing Niskanen behind him and away from the net and the space he has to work with because he's so far ahead of Alzner from before.
The play in its entirety (including the reverse angle) is below:
The point? This is the speed game we've been talking about. This is an instance where a home run pass wasn't available so the Rangers adjusted to use their speed to create a chance. Fast throws a perfect pass off the boards (the GIF provides a better look than the clips) and Kreider does the rest.
Let's hope there's more of this to come on Wednesday.