GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Twenty minutes into his first skate with an almost-full roster of Rangers, rookie Chris Kreider left the ice. A puck deflected off Anton Stralman's stick and sent him to the trainer's room for stitches on his upper lip.
Not the best start for the already well-traveled 21-year-old, who opened eyes with five goals in last spring's playoffs right off Boston College's NCAA championship season. He finished some courses in the summer, then spent the lockout with the AHL's Connecticut Whale, where he has been inconsistent, according to those who have watched him regularly. He has five goals and seven assists in 33 games, along with 55 penalty minutes.
Kreider said coaches had told him to "concentrate on what I can control, which is winning puck battles, getting pucks out of the zone and finishing checks. I let everything else take care of itself. If you do that and play an honest game, the chances come. This is my first pro season, there's a ton to learn. I was excited going into the situation regardless of what was going to happen."
The left wing will be at camp, which opens Sunday, on a mission. "Slate's wiped clean and you have to earn your spot," he said. "I'll keep my head down, work hard and try to make the team. That's all you can do."
Notes & quotes: Marian Gaborik (June shoulder surgery) also made his first appearance with the full group. He was cleared for contact in December, but "camp is going to be a good test," he said . . . The Boston Globe reported that the Bruins will host the Rangers in the season opener Jan. 19, but neither the Rangers or the NHL would confirm that Wednesday night . . . Negotiations with restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto continue . . . Jeff Halpern was absent because his wife, Kelley, gave birth to their second child.