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Chris Kreider proud of how Rangers' call-ups have stepped up

Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider celebrates after scoring against

Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider celebrates after scoring against the San Jose Sharks during the third period of an NHL game in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday. Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu

PHILADELPHIA — The road trip isn’t over. The Rangers still have an away game against the Flyers on Saturday to worry about.

The West Coast part of it is behind them now, though, and after an up-and-down 10 days, they headed east with a 2-2 split of the four games in the Pacific time zone. The Rangers remain entrenched in third place in the league with a 24-10-4 record and 52 points.

And according to Chris Kreider, they’ve learned something about their organizational depth: It’s good.

"It kind of felt like one step back, two steps forward, in a lot of ways,’’ Kreider said after Thursday’s 3-0 win over San Jose. "It would have been nice to come back from this road trip with one or two more points, but at the same time, I think we learned a lot about our group. Organizational depth’s important over the course of an 82-game season, so I don’t think I can talk enough about what a great job those guys have done when they’ve come into the lineup, whether it’s, you know, [Tim] Gettinger, [Jonny] Brodzinski and Morgan [Barron] or obviously [Anthony] Greco.’’

Greco, a Queens native, played a rousing game against San Jose in his Rangers debut. He entered the lineup after Alexis Lafreniere went into COVID-19 protocol before the game. The fourth line, made up of Hartford call-ups Gettinger, Barron and Brodzinski, had another solid effort in their third game together.

Kreider, who scored his 199th and 200th career goals Thursday, was particularly impressed with the NHL debut of 20-year-old defenseman Braden Schneider, who was more than solid in his 14:49 of ice time He scored his first NHL goal to make it 2-0 early in the third period and recorded four hits, two blocked shots and three shots on goal.

"He played great, stepped in, played great for us," Kreider said with a proud smile. "So, I mean, everyone’s done a really, really great job of coming in and injecting energy and playing the way they’ve been asked to play. That’s really important for us going forward.’’

Kreider was asked which milestone was more important to him — his 200th goal, which was scored into an empty net with 27.3 seconds remaining, or his 199th, which happened to be the first shorthanded goal of his career.

"The shorthanded goal,’’ he said. "I wanted that one for a while now. I almost screwed it up.’’

Kreider, who on Thursday was chosen to play in the NHL All-Star Game, was worried that he picked the wrong corner to shoot at against San Jose goalie Adin Hill. But the puck went in, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 10:25 of the first period. Entering Friday, his 23 goals had him tied for third-most in the league.

Schneider scored his first professional goal, and his parents were in attendance to see it. He spent his time in the postgame media availability unable to suppress a smile.

"The whole day, I was quite jittery,’’ he said. "I couldn’t really sit still. My nap wasn’t too great. I came to the rink and same thing, I had nerves, and I was just trying to try to stay in the moment.

"And when I got on the ice for warm-up, it became a little bit more real. And then I don’t think it hit me until my first shift to the game. And then I felt like after that I settled in and I got a little bit more confident as the game went on.’’

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