Matt Puempel scoring a hat trick on Dec. 29 was surprising. We’re talking about someone who, prior to his goal-scoring outburst, had only scored six times in his NHL career prior, so suddenly exploding for three in one night - now a third of his career totals - was pretty massive.
Chris Kreider scoring a hat trick on Dec. 31 was also surprising, but for a different reason entirely. It’s not that Kreider scoring a hat trick is shocking in and of itself - it was his second career hat trick, and he’s now scored 76 times in his NHL career - it’s the timing of it.
Hat tricks in back-to-back games aren’t common, and certainly not for the Rangers. Via the Elias Sports Bureau:
It marked only the second time in the last 22 seasons that Rangers players enjoyed hat tricks in consecutive games. The last instance came in 2014, when Rick Nash had a three-goal game versus the Capitals on December 23 and Derek Stepan matched him against the Devils four days later.
But get this: Puempel and Kreider were the first players to produce hat tricks for the Rangers in consecutive games on one road trip since March 22-24, 1978, when Ron Greschner scored three goals in a 6-1 win at St. Louis and Phil Esposito and Ron Duguay both scored three times in an 11-4 victory at Washington.
What a way to close out 2016: with a little more history for the team in their 90th season.