Chris Kreider of the Rangers celebrates a goal against the Hurricanes...

Chris Kreider of the Rangers celebrates a goal against the Hurricanes during the third period in Game 6 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. Credit: Getty Images/Grant Halverson


Pushing Chris Kreider to talk about himself, let alone celebrate himself, is as easy as it is to push him away from the front of the net.

Which is to say: not easy.

That was evident when the Rangers returned to work on Sunday, three days after Kreider’s third-period hat trick in a second-round clincher against the Hurricanes.

Had he allowed himself time to savor that historic night in a 5-3 victory in Game 6?

“Turn the page,” Kreider said, then did just that, using an imaginary book.

Even just a little bit that night? He mimed turning a page again.

Not even 10 minutes? This time he did not respond at all.

The Rangers are only halfway to a Stanley Cup, and their longest-tenured player was in no mood for reflection.

When a reporter gave it one last try, asking if he will be able to enjoy a night like Thursday perhaps after the season, he said only this:

“We’re in the middle of a playoff run. Got a ways to go and got to prepare for our first game.”

That will be Wednesday night against the Panthers at Madison Square Garden to start the Eastern Conference final.

For the Rangers to reach their first Stanley Cup Final since 2014, Kreider likely will need to be the same pest to goalies and defensemen that he has been since 2012.

It is what he does. But how does he do it?

Most teammates credit a mixture of talent, size, toughness and, more than anything, practice. Kreider regularly works on tip-ins after practice, even after all these years.

Backup goalie Jonathan Quick, who played against Kreider for years — including when Quick was with the Kings in the 2014 Final — told Newsday, “He has great timing. He knows where the goalie wants to be in order to see the shot.

“And it’s not something he’s good at by accident. He spends a lot of time working on that, practicing that, and he’s as good as there is in front of the net. It’s fun to see it with him doing it on my team, as opposed to being [expletive] back behind him trying to find the puck.”

Is there anything a goalie can do about it, other than taking Billy Smith-style whacks at him? “That’s probably it,” Quick said.

Kreider’s linemate, Jack Roslovic, said: “It’s the epitome of someone working on their craft. I think it’s a thing that not a lot of guys around the league are good at. Two of the best, [the Stars’ Joe] Pavelski and Chris, kind of stick out.

“He always has a knack in front of the net. It’s something that I wish I had a little more of.”

Kreider’s other linemate, Mika Zibanejad, said: “There’s a reason why he has been here his whole career. He’s done something right. Just the way he’s been on the ice, off the ice, the way he prepares himself, the way he is as a teammate. I think he knows this place in and out.”

Kreider joined the Rangers during the playoffs in 2012 after winning a national championship with Boston College. He finished with five goals and seven points in 18 postseason games, setting an NHL record for most playoff goals by a player who had yet to appear in a regular-season game.

Now, 12 years later, this will be his fifth conference finals.

Kreider’s 47 playoff goals are the most in Rangers history, 13 more than second-place Rod Gilbert. He has the most power-play goals in Rangers playoff history with 19. Adam Graves is second with 13.

Kreider never has been a star widely hailed around the league, even when he had 52 goals — half of them on power plays — in 2021-22. Watching him day in and day out is the only way to fully appreciate how annoying he is to opponents.

“At the end of day, there are a lot of things you have to do to decide the game,” coach Peter Laviolette said, “but one thing I know you have to do is put the puck in the net. He has an incredible knack for that. His history and his career have said that.

“You also learn that in the biggest moments, some guys really step up and they’re able to deliver what it is that can make a hockey game go your way, and he’s been one of those guys. He’s been a great leader on this team.

“We needed to have big performances in Game 6 and I thought he really delivered. I think that says a lot about him as well.”

That’s Kreider. His game says a lot about him. But he doesn’t.


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