BOSTON -- When Chris Kreider climbed over the boards and onto the ice for the first time Saturday night, a low spattering of cheers rose up from the sellout crowd at the TD Garden.
Securing that NCAA title delayed the 21-year-old's Rangers debut until the playoffs last season. However, once there, the 6-3, 226-pound winger wasted no time showcasing his talents, establishing an NHL record for most playoff goals (five) and points (seven) by a player before skating in a regular-season game.
Kreider's road to the NHL may have initially skipped over the regular season, but after weathering a lockout that spanned 113 days, the veteran of 18 playoff games finally made that regular-season debut Saturday night.
This debut, however, lacked some of the firepower showcased in the playoffs last season. Kreider logged just 10:13 of mostly invisible ice time in the Rangers' 3-1 loss to the Bruins. Nine penalties (two of which were fighting majors) committed by the Rangers didn't exactly help with the playing time.
Kreider finished the game with one hit and one shot, which came midway through the third period and whistled high and wide.
"It's disappointing because I always want to win," said Kreider, who maintained that the lack of ice time had no bearing on his play. "It's really easy to stay in the game at this level, it's so exciting, and it's so fast-paced. People have roles and I just tried to play my best when I was in there."
Being from the Boston area, Kreider appreciated being able to make his regular-season debut on familiar ice.
"Having my first regular-season game in Boston is obviously extremely special," he said before the game. "It's where I went to school, it's where I grew up. I saw a lot of games here and there's definitely a lot of memories."
Although familiar with the TD Garden ice from his time as a BC Eagle, Kreider harbored no illusions that Saturday night's game would be like any he'd previously played in Boston.
"I've played several times in college, but obviously it's a completely different game," he said. "It doesn't really matter where it is -- it's NHL-level competition [this time].
"There were little things, little nuances and stuff that I noticed that's different from playing in the AHL and different [from] playing in the NHL playoffs," Kreider said. "I think you get a taste of how much of a grind professional hockey is at the AHL level and it's just elevated that much more at this level.
"I think it will continue to be an adjustment and I'm looking forward to it."