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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Teammates feel Kreider more than ready if needed

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

KANATA, Ont. -- If New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider makes his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, teammate Brian Boyle doesn't have much in the way of advice of how to get quickly acclimated.

In Boyle's NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings on February 2, 2008, he wasn't at the rink until the game had long since started.

"I was late. I got there with 12 minutes left in the first," said Boyle, whose Kings lost 6-3 in New Jersey that night. "We drove down. The driver got lost. I got a goal and an assist and I was really psyched. It was an emergency call-up from Manchester. I was in panic mode."

Should Kreider crack the lineup in place of Carl Hagelin, who will begin serving his three-game suspension for his elbow to the head of Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2 on Saturday night, he won't be racing to Scotiabank Place at the last minute, but his heart may be pumping twice as hard.

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Kreider decided to forego his senior season at Boston College and join the Rangers right before the postseason, burning the first year of his entry-level deal in the process. Monday marked the first time during this series that Kreider didn't stay on late with coaches after the game-day skate, an indication he may play.

Rangers coach John Tortorella didn't tip his hand Monday morning -- John Scott could also potentially play in Game 3 -- but the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Kreider brings a similar skill set to Hagelin. Kreider possesses speed and a quick shot, but not a second of NHL experience.

Boyle feels that Kreider will adjust fine if he plays in Game 3.

"I think he's a pretty smart kid," said Boyle, who also played at BC. "He follows the game and he's probably been paying close attention to the series. Anyone who ever steps into a new team, or any advice I've gotten at level, is it's a hockey game. You've played one or two before, just enjoy it. That's the only thing I've ever told anyone when they come into a new situation."

Rangers center Derek Stepan was teammates with Kreider during the 2010 World Junior Championship. Stepan and Kreider emerged victorious in a 6-5 overtime win against Team Canada in the gold-medal game in Saskatoon.

Stepan didn't spend much time on a line with Kreider during the tournament, but he saw what Kreider could do in a pressure-packed situation on Canadian soil.

"We never really had set lines, but he's a good player," Stepan said. "He's big, strong, fast, shoots the puck hard. He always seems to be around the puck. He's got a good skill set, too. I'm sure it's like every other adjustment. It's going to be a big one for him. I think in practices here he's helped himself a lot."

Kreider played mostly on the wing at Boston College. The Rangers didn't display their lines during their optional practice, but Kreider could wind up playing with Stepan and Ryan Callahan on the second line with Artem Anisimov moved to the top line with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.

The Rangers gave Kreider a "homework assignment" while he sat during Games 1 and 2 -- study how Hagelin plays without the puck. Kreider said he learned a lot from the experience and even took notes during the first game.

"I was just trying to jot down whenever he used his speed off the puck to pressure the defensemen and get up ice," Kreider said after Game 1. "He used it in various situations. I went back today and looked at it on tape in a couple of situations."

No matter what Tortorella decides, replacing Hagelin won't be easy.

"He's a good player for us," Tortorella said. "He brings us speed, he chases down good. He's been really good since we brought him up."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery