Well, that was unexpected.
Kreider, the 21-year-old rookie and first-round draft choice in 2009, was shipped to Hartford Friday, and played against the Portland Pirates last night as the Whale won 4-1. He had one shot, a second-period hooking penalty, and was on ice for the Pirates goal.
After practice today, coach John Tortorella gave no indication that he would be quickly recalled, which leads to speculation that Rick Nash or another forward is suffering from something and Kreider is being summoned as a precaution. The Blueshirts are carrying seven D, but just 12 forwards.
As reported this morning, Nash didn’t practice and he skipped Friday night’s season-subscriber forum at the Beacon Theater. Attendees were told that he was sick; Tortorella told me and other writers today that Nash was out for “body maintenance…he’s played a lot of hockey,” referring to the 17 games in Switzerland during the lockout as well, I presume. But it was clear that he expected Nash to play against the Caps at 6 pm Sunday. Something changed in the interim either with Nash or otherwise. No one was sent down.
Here’s what Torts said about Kreider (and rookie J.T. Miller):
“I don’t think he did enough to get into the 20 here; doesn’t mean he won’t at some point in time…I think Miller has done a little bit more on the puck, getting to pucks, has made more of a difference… “We give (Kreider) points, as far as what he needs to work on. For me, it’s his whole game. And that’s not a criticism of Chris. It’s part of learning the game. He has speed. He has size. He has a lot of attributes. It’s a matter of getting him to make a difference within the game…He’s going to go through the process to understand what it is to be a pro and to learn how to be a National Hockey League player.... Millsy has struggled away from the puck but he’s done a number of things that warrants him staying in the lineup.” Kreider being sent down “isn’t a surprise” and Torts referred to Michael Del Zotto’s similar shuffle in his first season. “He came on in a flash... It’s not a negative.”