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Kreider is the toast of the town

Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 11:11 PM

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist / Bracket Challenge Blog

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Bracket Challenge Blog
Kreider is the toast of the town
Three weeks after leading Boston College to the NCAA championship, Chris Kreider is the toast of New York.

Kreider signed with the Rangers after BC's title game victory on April 7, and he's one of the big reasons New York beat Ottawa in the first round and leads Washington 1-0 in the second. In his six games as a pro, Kreider has a pair of game-winning goals -- including the winner in Saturday's 3-1 victory against the Caps -- making him the first Rangers rookie to get more than one in the same year since Mike Allison in 1981 to get more than one.

Kreider, the first player since John Byce in 1990 to go directly from winning an NCAA championship into the playoffs, had the winning goal and an assist in the Rangers' 3-2 win in Game 6 against Ottawa, then did the same thing on Saturday against the Caps. The 20-year-old is the youngest Ranger to score a playoff goal since Niklas Sundstrom in 1996; he's just the third player ever to score a playoff goal for New York before playing in a regular-season game for the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 5-3-0
GAA: 1.61 | SVP: 0.945
Tough to get through -- The average regular-season game in 2011-12 had roughly 60 shots on goal. It's fair to say the average game was nothing like the Rangers' 3-1 win against Washington on Saturday.

The Rangers and Capitals combined for just 32 shots on goal -- 18 by Washington and only 14 by the Rangers, the fewest by any team in a game this spring. The 32 shots were the fewest by two teams in any game this spring and the first time in five years that neither team reached 20 shots on goal in a playoff game.

But the lack of shots on goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist of New York and Braden Holtby of Washington wasn't because the teams weren't trying.

The 32 shots on goal were exactly one-third of the 96 attempts the teams directed at goal. With both teams diving to get in front of shots and harassing shooters at every turn, there were 30 blocked shots (15 apiece) and another 34 that missed the net (the Rangers were off-target 18 times, the Caps 16).

How tough was it to get a puck to the net? Washington's defensemen tried 30 shots; five of them made it to Lundqvist. New York's forwards took 30 shots and just eight got through to Holtby; the bad news for the Caps was that three of the eight got past him.

Good omen -- Winning Game 1 is never a guarantee of success in a series, but for the New York Rangers, it's usually a harbinger of good things to come. The Rangers are 31-11 in playoff series when they win the opening game, including 6-1 in the last seven when they've started with a victory.

Slava Voynov
Defense - LAK
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 8 | +/-: 3
King-sized firsts -- Los Angeles got its first two goals by defensemen in its 3-1 win at St. Louis on Saturday, each of which ended a drought that extended back to 1993 -- the only time the Kings have made it to the Stanley Cup Final.

L.A.'s first goal was scored by Slava Voynov, who became the first rookie blueliner to score a playoff goal since Alexei Zhitnik did it 19 years ago. One period later, Matt Greene hammered in a rebound for a shorthanded goal, the second ever by a Kings defenseman and the first since Rob Blake in '93.

Road warriors -- Road teams are now 31-20 in this year's playoffs, partly because of the Los Angeles Kings' success away from home. L.A. improved to 4-0 on the road this spring by winning its series-opener in St. Louis and has won six in a row away from Staples Center dating to last spring -- the Kings won their last two games in San Jose in 2011, then swept all three in Vancouver during the first-round upset of the Canucks that earned them a matchup against the Blues.

The road has historically been a tough place for the Kings during the playoffs. Before their six-game streak, they were 27-66 all-time away from home in the postseason -- and they had never won more than two consecutive road games.

Coming in threes
-- Greene's goal was just the sixth non-empty net shorthanded tally this spring -- but the six goals have been scored by just two teams. Philadelphia scored three shorthanded goals in its first-round win against Pittsburgh, while the Kings scored two against Vancouver in the first round before getting the third against St. Louis on Saturday.

Kings forward Dustin Brown has scored two of the Kings' three shorthanded goals and assisted on the other. Claude Giroux and Max

Talbot of the Flyers have points on all three of Philadelphia's shorthanded goals.
Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season