On December 28, 2017, Chris Kreider was shutdown for an indefinite amount of time after a blood clot was discovered in his right arm. That was right around when the decline of the 2017-18 New York Rangers began, and management publicly announced their plans of rebuilding. Nearly two months passed before a much lighter Kreider was allowed to return to game action and he came roaring back with 15 points in the final 21 games of the season.
Despite missing 24 games, Kreider was able to reach the 37 point mark and it was fairly evident that his presence was missed during those two months. With the health scare finally behind him entering the 2018-19 calendar year, the expectation for Kreider was to build on the previous season’s hot streak and finally aim for that illustrious 30-goal season.
Chris Kreider started the 2018-19 season off at a ridiculous pace, and was on track to set career highs in both goals and points. However, an extended mid-season slump — later revealed to be fueled by a hamstring injury — derailed Kreider’s chances of hitting the 30-goal mark yet again. Even with the second half downswing, Kreider still finished the season with 28 goals, 24 assists, and 52 total points. The 28 goals tied a previous career-high set back in 2016-17, while his 24 assists and 52 points each came one shy of tying highs set during that same season.
Here’s a look at how Kreider’s first half of the season compared to the second, and the differential in those numbers as the season progressed. Also, a glance at how his advanced statistics ranked among the rest of the roster.
As the first table shows, Kreider was scoring at nearly a 40-goal pace to start the year and was on his way to eclipsing 60 points for the first time in his career. Those projections took a pretty big hit when he went on an 8-game goalless streak throughout the month of February, and another 11-game goal drought to close out the regular season.
In addition to his incredible size and speed, Kreider has settled nicely into becoming a pretty dominant net-front player for the Rangers. He’s constantly creating havoc for opposing goaltenders and defenders alike. The 6’3” winger is also impossible to move out of his office, and when he’s not posted up for a screen, he’s driving the net looking for a pass. While he’s not the greatest when it comes to handling the puck, Kreider certainly makes up for that with his vision and timing in front of the net.
As illustrated by the above images, it’s pretty clear where Kreider spends most of his time when he’s on the ice. A very large portion of his shots come in the high-danger areas and they are right in the face of the opposing goaltender. When he gets setup at the top of the crease, it creates a very sizable mismatch for anyone defending him. Even on the power play, Kreider works wonders with having a dangerous shot like Mika Zibanejad coming off of the left side boards. We’ve seen countless times where Zibanejad would read off of Chris Kreider’s screen in front of the net, and place his shot perfectly so the goaltender has minimal vision.
It’s no surprise that the trio of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Pavel Buchnevich had another successful campaign together, and Kreider is a large part of that equation. His style blends in perfectly with the skillful play of Buchnevich and Zibanejad, and gives that line a great balance of size, speed, and skill in all areas of the ice.
Banter Consensus: B+
Despite the slight downward slide in goals during the second half of the season, Chris Kreider continued to show that he’s more than capable of handling top-line minutes. He’s put up consistent 25-goal, 50-point totals (aside from 2017-18 due to a blood clot in his arm) for the last several seasons.
Kreider was far and away one of the top players on the team throughout the year, along with Mika Zibanejad, and continued his excellent play around the front of the net.