Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers celebrates his third-period...

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers celebrates his third-period goal against the Islanders at UBS Arena on Nov. 24, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Chris Kreider is too much of a team guy to ever want to talk about himself, but the way the longest-tenured Rangers player has been playing this season, someone should talk about him.

With the Rangers and the NHL now in their Christmas break, Kreider has amassed 18 goals through the season’s first 30 games, a number that is tied for fourth in the league, behind Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (23), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (22) and Toronto’s Auston Matthews (20).

Furthermore, Kreider’s 11 power-play goals are second in the league to Draisaitl’s 13. Kreider’s work in front of the net on the man advantage has been a big part of why the Rangers’ power play is tied for sixth-best in the league, scoring on 25.6% of opportunities.

"I think I'm steadily improving, but you know, there's room for [more] improvement,’’ Kreider said Tuesday after lingering on the ice for a few extra minutes following the Rangers’ last practice before the break. "I’ve got to continue to look to improve and not be content and happy with where I'm at.’’

The 6-3, 217-pound Kreider, 30, is quietly enjoying a career year as the Rangers (19-7-4) chase after their first playoff spot since 2017. He’s passed the 600-game plateau this season and is five goals away from 200 in the NHL. He's on a pace to score 49 goals this season, which would be a career high. The most goals he’s scored in a single season is 28.

But there’s more. This season, Kreider has been given the responsibility of helping kill penalties, something he hasn’t done much in his career. He usually works with his regular linemate, Mika Zibanejad, on the second forward duo on the PK, and his 41:22 in shorthanded ice time ranks fourth among Rangers forwards.

"I've enjoyed being in a position to help our team defend leads at the end of games [and] getting a little bit of penalty kill time,’’ he said. "That's something that I've taken a lot of pride in, and have really enjoyed, want to continue to improve at, because I think that's something that I can be good at.’’

The Christmas break started a day early for the Rangers as their scheduled game Wednesday at the Garden against the Montreal Canadiens was postponed by the league because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. The stoppage came just as Kreider and Zibanejad finally seemed to start clicking with their latest right wing, Kaapo Kakko.

In the last two games, the trio started to dominate possession of the puck in the offensive zone and combined for five goals. For the season, according to Natural Stat Trick, the line had played together for 128:04, and created 69 scoring chances for, while allowing 55 against, and produced 34 high-danger chances, compared to 18 against.

"We've had a couple of [good] games,’’ Kreider said of his line. "[But] you can't be content or happy with your last game. It's the next game. It's the next day. And we’ve got to continue to improve. So, I mean, we found some success offensively the last couple of games, but we have to build on that."

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