Chris Kreider out indefinitely after hand surgery
CALGARY, Alberta - The Rangers are going to be without Chris Kreider for a while.
Kreider underwent surgery Friday to repair an injury to his left hand at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. He will be sidelined indefinitely, the team said.
Kreider, who reportedly broke a bone in his hand, was injured against Columbus on March 21. He has 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points, along with 72 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating in 66 games.
Kreider is tied for first on the team in power-play goals (six), second in goals, second in hits and sixth in points. He also is tied for fourth among NHL rookies in points and ranks fifth in goals.
Kreider's absence won't undermine the team's determination as it seeks a playoff berth.
After Friday's morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Rangers were unanimous in their message: We can't look past anyone.
"Nothing really changes in the last eight games here," Derek Stepan said before the Rangers played the first game of their four-city western trip against the Flames, who brought a 30-36-7 record into the game. "Two points are important the rest of the way. No matter the opponent, we have to be worried about us, our focus, our preparation, and just make sure that we're ready to play."
In the battle for second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Rangers' lead over Philadelphia was cut to one after the Flyers beat Toronto Friday night. The intensity displayed in a five-game winning streak must extend through this week, the players said.
In that vein, coach Alain Vigneault chose to keep the same lineup as in the 3-1 victory over the Flyers that ended the homestand on Wednesday.
It was yet another opportunity for Martin St. Louis, acquired from Tampa Bay on March 5 for Ryan Callahan and two draft choices, to snap a surprising drought. He has only three assists in 12 games.
"He might not be on the scoresheet but he's finding ways to contribute, and that's what players have to do," Vigneault said. "It's just a matter of time before a guy with his offensive qualities finds a way to get on the scoresheet on a more regular basis. I'm not worried about it."
Henrik Lundqvist (8-2-0, 1.70 GAA, .941 save percentage in his last 10 games) started his ninth consecutive game for the Rangers (41-29-4, 86 points).
There was reason for the Rangers to be wary of the Flames, who were 6-4 in their last 10 home games. They seem to be relishing the spoiler's role.
"I understand there's no pressure of playoffs, but we had the choice to say 'we're done' and basically be fooling around till the end of the year, and I don't think that would be a very wise choice," coach Bob Hartley said. "So we've been stepping on the pedal more, and I think we're a pretty tough team to beat right now."
Karri Ramo (13-11-4, 2.56 GAA, .912 save percentage), who played in the KHL for the previous four seasons and missed 15 games in February and March with a knee injury, was in net for the Flames. Ramo, 27, had won two of his last three starts. Said Hartley, "Nothing rattles him."
Notes & quotes: Defenseman Justin Falk is back in New York with his wife, who is expecting . . . John Moore (concussion) missed his third game, but he skated and appears closer to returning.