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If Chris Kreider is cleared, why not play him in 'must' game?

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers celebrates

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal with teammates in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Capitals. (April 28, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Seems like a no-brainer to me. What does Alain Vigneault have to lose?

If you hold the big, speedy 23-year-old Chris Kreider back and the Penguins take Game 4 tonight and head to Pittsburgh with a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals, the coach will be second-guessed all the way back to Vancouver.

If you lose with Kreider (17 goals during the season and a proven playoff producer in his brief career) in the lineup, well, you gave it your best shot, with a key player back. And it gets him some minutes for Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Sunday (time TBA, but presuming it's at night).

Vigneault didn't show lines at the morning skate here at MSG, but we can see Kreider can skate and pass, even if his shot isn't 100 percent back. That's what the Rangers need, a little more speed and size on the forecheck and net-front presence on the power play.

I would not be surprised to see him skating with Stepan and Nash and see Martin St. Louis back with Richards and Hagelin. Third line would stay the same (Zuke, Brassard, Pouliot, or, as one fan wrote to me, "Pool and The Gang") and the choice on the fourth line with Boyle and Dom Moore could be Miller, Carcillo, Dorsett or Fast. I'd think Carcillo or Miller.

I'd be shocked if Raphael Diaz isn't back on the point on the power play. He had six shots in Game 3. That would mean John Moore would sit for the second straight game.

New York Sports