In many ways, Chris Kreider has been a microcosm of the New York Rangers as a whole over the past couple of years. In the 2021-22 season, Kreider rode an incredibly high shooting percentage (20.2 percent) and deft skill on the power play to an astounding total of 52 goals in the regular season. The Rangers followed suit with 52 wins on the back of their power play, great goaltending, and some luck.
Early in this 2022-23 season, Kreider has seen a regression. He is getting chances and helping drive play at even strength and on the power play, but he is shooting only 11.7 percent. Similarly, the Rangers as a team have been on the right side of scoring chance generation this season, but have failed to convert that into consistent wins.
Lately, however, Kreider is starting to turn his chances into goals, showing that another 50-goal season might be an unrealistic expectation, Kreider will likely continue to be a very productive player nonetheless because of his consistency in helping create scoring chances. After scoring only two goals in his first eight games — both on Oct. 13 against the Minnesota Wild — Kreider has now tallied five goals in his past nine games, along with five assists. Three of those five goals have come on the power play — Kreider’s specialty.
This type of correction seemed like only a matter of time when looking at how Kreider has helped drive offense this season:
At both five-on-five and on the power play, Kreider’s presence makes the Rangers an extremely threatening team offensively, with expected goal rates well above league average. Without Kreider, those numbers take a major dip (although I’d be remiss to not mention the low sample size on the power play minutes without Kreider).
In addition, Kreider has generated 10.48 individual expected goals at all strengths this season, per Evolving Hockey. His seven goals thus fall short of what he should have based on the chances he’s gotten. Given his slow start and recent scoring binge, that disparity was even worse prior to the past couple of weeks: Kreider had two goals despite 5.31 individual expected goals in the Rangers’ first eight games, meaning his goal total should have been more than doubled. So we’re now starting to see his stats correct themselves.
Of course, last season, Kreider’s 52 goals vastly outpaced his 36.66 individual expected goals, so it’s definitely possible that an outlier season could happen in the other direction. The recent trend, however, is positive for Kreider. Now the Rangers’ overall team production just needs to trend the same way so that they can start to string some wins together.