GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Since the beginning of the NHL season, forward Chris Kreider has had three separate stints with the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League. But after being called up Wednesday, Kreider is excited to be back with the New York Rangers in April.
It was around this time last season the Boston College product saw his first NHL action, contributing five goals in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Rangers advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After collecting three points in 17 games this season, Kreider would love nothing more than to make a similar contribution in the postseason.
"I think it was around this time that I got that opportunity," Kreider said following Thursday's optional team skate. "That being said, it's an entirely different situation. I'm looking forward to trying to seize that opportunity."
Kreider collected 12 goals and 23 points in 48 games with Connecticut, and he hasn't experienced NHL action since seeing 3:23 of ice time in a 4-2 home win against the Winnipeg Jets on April 1. But despite the ups and downs of this season, Kreider maintains his focus has been on winning, no matter which team it is with.
"I go down [to Connecticut] with the mindset that I want to win hockey games. That's the mindset you have to have," Kreider said. "It's something I was looking forward to doing down there. I have the same mindset coming back up. I want to help this team win hockey games."
These Rangers aren't exactly the same club Kreider played with during his most recent NHL stint. A day after being sent down to the AHL, the Rangers made the trade that sent Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Derick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett. This Rangers squad may be different, but there are still some familiar faces.
"I actually know a couple of the guys who came over in the trade. I played a lot with John Moore, so I knew him pretty well," Kreider said. "It feels a little different coming to the rink and seeing some new guys."
With center Brian Boyle questionable for Thursday's matchup against the Florida Panthers, Kreider could be called upon to contribute. And if that call does come, he hopes to show that his two weeks in Connecticut were productive.
"I think they've done a good job of communicating stuff they want me to improve on. Stuff to focus on from game to game," Kreider said. "It's not something I sat and harped on in Hartford. It was a driving and motivating factor. Something that is in the back of your mind, but you focus on the day to day stuff."