GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Chris Kreider probably would have made every Top 10 highlight show if he’d been able to score on that lacrosse-style shot he took against Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman in the Rangers’ 5-2 victory over the Bruins on Friday.
Replay confirmed the puck had not gone in the net, but the fact that Kreider tried to pull off such a cheeky play caught some by surprise.
"I had no idea,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said Monday when asked if he knew Kreider had that move at his disposal. "It’s the first time I’ve seen it. But that was pretty close. Really nice move.’’
Kreider said he does practice the move. It’s sometimes called "the Michigan goal’’ because the first time anyone saw it was in a college game in 1996. Michigan forward Mike Legg picked up the puck, came around the goal and tucked it into the net against Minnesota.
"It’s something to mess around with occasionally,’’ Kreider said. "I had a little separation [from the defender]. The puck wasn’t totally flat [on the ice]. So I figured I’d try it.’’
Kreider insisted he didn’t try the move simply because his confidence is sky high. He has scored 15 goals in the Rangers’ first 20 games, tying him
with Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane for third in the league behind Leon Draisaitl (20) and Alexander Ovechkin (19) entering Monday’s play.
But Kreider doesn’t like talking about his own success. He’d rather gush about how good his teammates — linemate Mika Zibanejad and power-play linemates Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Ryan Strome — are at setting him up.
His nine power-play goals entering Monday were second in the NHL to Draisaitl’s 10. He said that’s because his teammates are so good at looking off defenders and sending pinpoint passes to him to deflect past goalies.
He recalled a conversation with former Boston College teammate Cam Atkinson about what it’s like to play on a line with Panarin. Atkinson’s best season, 2018-19, came when he played with Panarin for Columbus. The Rangers signed Panarin as a free agent in the summer of 2019.
"He talked a little bit about . . . being ready for the puck when he didn’t necessarily think he was going to get the puck,’’ Kreider said. "I mean [Panarin’s] so good at hitting you with misdirection. There’s a lot of times over the last few years where I’m kind of standing up straight and all of a sudden, [the pass is] right between my legs. If I was ready for it, I probably would have had a better opportunity.’’
Forward Greg McKegg did not practice because he was in COVID-19 protocol, the team said, but Gallant said he is not worried about additional players joining him. "I sure hope not,’’ he said. "I don’t have any worries today. I mean, everybody else tested negative.’’ He said that while everyone on the team is fully vaccinated, he did not know if any of the players have had a booster shot.