Chris Kreider could miss significant time with hand injury

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider skates against the

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period. (Nov. 30, 2013) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Amid speculation that he has a hand or finger injury, Chris Kreider, who has 17 goals and had been playing on the first line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, will miss Wednesday night's widely anticipated matchup with the Flyers.

According to a tweet from TSN's Bob McKenzie that was later deleted, Kreider suffered a hand injury, possibly a broken bone that could sideline him for some time, against the Coyotes in Monday's 4-3 overtime win at Madison Square Garden.

A team spokesman would say only that the 22-year-old left wing will miss the game, and declined to provide further information.

Losing Kreider, who also has 20 assists in 66 games, for any length of time would be a big blow to the Rangers.

He played just 10:12 and took only three shifts in the third period on Monday. He recorded four hits, no shots on goal, one shot blocked and one missed shot, and a deflection off his stick in front provided the third Coyotes goal late in the second period.

MSG cameras have a shot of Kreider taking off his glove and flexing his hand walking into the locker room after that second period.

It is possible that the Rangers will recall J.T. Miller, who was in the process of joining the team Monday, to be ready in case either Stepan or Martin St. Louis, dragging from the flu, could not dress. Miller has 33 points in 35 games for Hartford.

Kreider, a 6-3 left wing, was a first-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2009, and his size and speed has provided a consistent forecheck for the first line.

Kreider's skill set will be missed as two of the hottest teams in the East angle for seeding in the first round. Both have won five of six games, and the Rangers (40-29-4) are in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 84 points. The Flyers (38-26-7) are in third with 83, but have two games in hand. Under the new playoff format, teams finishing second and third in each division face each other in the first round.

So Wednesday night's game could be a playoff preview, and the talking already has begun.

"If we play them in the playoffs," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds told reporters, "they're going to definitely know what the Philadelphia Flyers are bringing to the table."

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