[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the second round playoff series between the Capitals and the Rangers, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but perhaps lesser-known players on the Rangers and how they might impact the series.]
#20 / Left Wing/ New York Rangers
April 30, 1991
Birthplace: Boxford, Massachusetts
Drafted: 19th overal, 2009 by New York Rangers
|Assets||Has great speed, to go along with his impressive size and scoring upside. Can play either wing or center. Projects as a power winger at the highest level.
|Flaws||Still needs to round out his game more and utilize his big frame more to his advantage in order to maximize his scoring potential in the NHL.
|Career Potential||Big, speedy scoring forward with good upside. (Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via SB Nation player page)|
|2011-12 (Boston College)||44||23||22||45||N/A||66||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Why you should know who he is - Kreider spent all season in Boston College, so he's just getting his first taste of professional hockey. As could be expected, the Rangers have eased him into the lineup, not giving him big minutes or tough assignments. He's still a guy the Caps will need to respect. He's got great speed, size, and an excellent shot. He scored the game winning goal against the Senators in the do-or-die game 6. Kreider also won the gold medal in the World Junior Championships in 2010 with John Carlson, and he signed his NHL contract just hours after winning the NCAA championship with Boston College. Let's hope he left the lucky rabbit's foot in the amateur ranks.
How the Caps can stop him - Kreider is still having trouble creating against NHL competition. The speed, size, and strength of NHL players is a huge adjustment coming from the NCAA so it was never a realistic expectation that he'd come in and dominate right away. He's got a great future, but that isn't right now. Still, as the Senators learned, if you leave him open with time and space he will make you pay. His goal was on an open look from the high slot area, and he made no mistake. The Caps will need to keep an eye on him, and not let him use his speed through the neutral zone or get any good looks at the net from in close. He's not a top line player so he's probably going to see most of his ice time against the Caps' bottom defensive pairs. Hopefully they are up to the task.