We went up to the Rangers practice facility in Westchester recently to watch the team practice and then interview a few players. We were lucky enough to spend some time with rookie left-winger Chris Kreider.
What did you feel like playing in your first NHL game?
I was extremely excited. It was a dream come true. Something I dreamed about my entire life. Just very excited.
What was your favorite NHL team when you were growing up?
It was actually the Bruins because I grew up in Boston. I loved the Bruins growing up but now not so much.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
Not particularly. I eat a lot of food and I usually eat the same thing. The only thing I would say is my diet is pretty consistent.
Who challenged you as a kid to become a better player?
I had a lot of really good coaches. I was lucky some very, very good coaches and some very positive experiences when I was a kid. My parents, they never pushed me too hard, they obviously inspired me too.
Do you talk to any other players on the ice during the game?
Of course. Yeah [laughing]. [We give the opponents] Words of encouragement.
Do you like home games or away games better?
Home games because obviously the crowd is behind you. It's nice to be able to sleep in your own bed. Away games are fun too.
When you were growing up which hockey player did you admire the most?
I really liked Ray Bourque growing up because I was a Bruins fan. Bill Guerin, Joe Thornton. All those guys I really looked up to.
What inspired you when life wasn't going your way, but you had to keep your head up?
I think my parents and my grandparents. They're very happy people and I learned a lot of things from them, obviously, especially perseverance and a never-give-up attitude.
Did you play hockey in college?
I played college. I played at Boston College.
Do you like when the crowd's really wild?
Love it. Yeah. It's like a seventh player on the ice for us. It's a huge advantage.
As a Ranger what game do you feel is your best-played game?
Maybe this year against Vancouver when everything seemed to be going right. But I've played so many games at this point it kind of blurred together.
Does your uniform number have anything to do with you?
I wore 18 in high school and I wore 19 in college. So it seemed like the natural progression and it was the only few numbers they had available. I wore 20 at the world junior championship when we won a gold medal. That was probably the most fun I had playing hockey. It was kind of a no-brainer.
When you're not playing well what motivates you to keep working hard?
Because I love hockey. It's easy to get up in the morning, if you had a bad game the day before to get excited. Because I get to play a sport for another.
What do you like more -- practices or games?
Everyone loves to play games. But obviously I enjoy practices too. But there's nothing quite like playing the game especially on this team.
Do you have any missing teeth yet?
No, but I have a few dead teeth, though, and a few chipped teeth.
Do you have any superstitions?
I'm not overly superstitious.
What sport beside hockey were you interested in as a kid?
I loved pretty much every sport as a kid. I played Lacrosse, I played football, soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, I did everything. But I really like soccer. Soccer is awesome.
What are your plans after your hockey career?
That's a good one. I haven't given it a ton of thought.
How many hours a week do you practice?
It depends on how many games we have. Today was a shorter practice because we had a game yesterday and we have a game tomorrow.