New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider sure is a speedy fellow. Unfortunately, in his young NHL career he has exhibited a disturbing inability to put a rein on his speed when the opposition goalie -- and the crease which is the goalie's rightful territory -- in in the way.
Last night in the Rangers' 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, Kreider added another incident to his rap sheet when he failed to realize -- or perhaps his synapses and his muscles failed to coordinate -- that he needs to stop or avoid Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak:
Incredibly, Kreider didn't even start to put the brakes on until he was at the red arc that forms the crease. The NHL has helpfully marked that area with a nice red arc and bright blue shading.
This incident was of some concern to the Isles and their fans because, as Halak showed throughout the rest of the game, he's kind of important. (Goalies are like that. Hence the bright blue ice and all that.)
Though sometimes the defenseman is a factor in these collisions -- call it The Jurcina Variable -- in this instance Travis Hamonic does not increase Kreider's momentum into Halak.
Alas, this is not a one-time development for Kreider. (An earlier version of the Newsday recap even referenced Kreider's growing goalie-running reputation.) Memorable past victims include Craig Anderson of the Senators, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins, and Carey Price of the Canadiens:
Just as disturbing, after each of the above incidents Kreider claims -- sincerely, it appears -- complete innocence on the play. He is shocked -- SHOCKED -- that anyone could accuse him of running the goalie after he runs the goalie, and pines when the NHL officials have the nerve to penalize him.
Which raises several questions:
- Does he not know the rules of ice hockey?
- Does he think that because it is a scoring chance he is allowed to run the goalie like a running back on the two-yard line? ("It's not your fault...it's not your fault...it's not your fault.")
- Maybe like Dion Phaneuf when he leaves his position (and often, his feet) for a hit, Kreider just figures he's not responsible for what happens after he turns on the jets?
- Is it possible that as a child he learned how to skate at elite speeds without anyone ever teaching him how to hockey stop at such speeds?
- After being cited for this multiple times, has he ever consulted the rulebook or bothered to adjust his approach?
The Islanders also possess a speed demon by the name of Michael Grabner. That means he gets a lot of breakaways too. One impressive trait Grabner has is his awareness of the goalie and how to stop or avoid him on one of his lightning rushes.
The below example isn't ideal because Grabner isn't much pressured by the pursuing defenseman -- often that is a complicating factor in crease crashes -- but it does show how Grabner is generally cognizant of his obligation not to drive the goalie through the end boards:
For the sake of NHL goalies everywhere, maybe someone will take Kreider aside and show him how it's supposed to be done.