Monday, May 19, 2014

Crash Kreider He's Not

From Easy Kreider to Crash Kreider? Don't think so.

Concerning Saturday's collision in Montreal between New York Rangers foward Chris Kreider and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, I don't see how Kreider could have stopped in time to avoid contact with Price. The Rangers won, 7-2, scoring two goals late in the second period on Price, who finished the period, and then three more on backup Petr Budaj in the third stanza in a 7-2 romp in Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.

Kreider, who is 6'3" and 220 pounds before he even puts on his equipment, had the puck and was going hard to the net at full speed in a 2-0 game, with two opponents whacking away at him. It all happened fast, and he could just as easily have wrecked himself in the ensuing collision.

Habs coach Michel Therrien said on Monday that Kreider's play was "reckless". If Price was so badly hurt, or the Canadiens had concerns about his knee, then why did he last the rest of the period? Now he's said to be out the rest of the series. It's gamesmanship on the part of Montreal's head coach, but that's as much a part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as winning faceoffs and scoring goals.

Kreider has been accused of running into NHL goalies before, as seen here, including the Price play. The sequence with Fleury was questionable, but with the others, why would Kreider slide if he really wanted to take them out? Why not stay upright and barrel them over at full speed, rather than risk getting cut with a skate or slamming a knee into a goal post? The second coming of Matt Cooke, Kreider isn't. Plus, he's even coming off of surgery on a broken hand.

“I think I’m a clean player,” said Kreider, who catalyzed the Rangers' rebound from the brink of elimination in the last round with a power-play goal at Pittsburgh in Game 5. “I don’t go out with the intent to hurt any player. Ever. I’m going to continue to try and score goals.”

He did on Saturday, racing in and beating Price stick-side to give New York a 3-1 lead at the time. And I'm not defending Kreider because we both went to Boston College, albeit him going more than 20 years after me. Brooks Orpik also attended BC, and he's thrown more than a few questionable hits in his time in the NHL that have injured opposing players.

Then there's this semi-late hit on Derick Brassard by Montreal's Mike Weaver, who is not a dirty player, either, early on in Game 1. No word from the Canadiens on that one, even though Brassard left the ice and never returned to action.

Canadiens forward and former Ranger player Brandon Prust said that Kreider did what he did "accidentally on purpose". The same Prust who has 90 points and 843 penalty minutes in 369 career NHL regular-season games, plus 14 more minutes on Saturday for hacking away at Kreider in the third period, including a slash to the hand and a spear (of sort) to the groin. Nice.

The Canadiens should be worrying how to handle the Rangers' speed after that debacle on Saturday afternoon. Expect Montreal to tighten things up tonight in Game 2, hopefully with less fireworks.

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