Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/20/14

Many of us were against the New York Rangers immediately subjecting rookie Chris Kreider to the NHL Playoff atmosphere upon being signed to an entry-level deal out of college. No matter the skill level, that jump could be a shell shocker for any player, and this is something head coach John Tortorella said he discussed with his team prior to Kreider's arrival. While it took the 20-year-old from Boxford, Massachusetts three games to fully gain his confidence, he hasn't looked back since. In fact, in just six NHL games, Kreider has worked his way to the second line, he's recorded two game-winning goals, as well as an assist, to tie Brian Boyle for fourth on the team in scoring during the playoffs. And we thought it would be best to start him out in the AHL, huh?

It's not Kreider's rapidly building confidence that's been so surprising, though. It's the level at which he's excelled just six games in, already becoming a core player for this team who is receiving hefty ice time from coach Tortorella. He's already become the type of player that the fans are excited to see each time he steps onto the ice, because they just know something is going to happen. Heck, the MSG faithful even started up a "Krei-der" chant after he scored what would turn out to be the game-deciding tally in yesterday's Game 1 win over the Washington Capitals. 

"It was a surreal experience; I got goose bumps, obviously," Kreider said. "I was really tired after the goal, but didn’t feel so tired when they started chanting."

No, Chris, what is surreal is that you carried a professional hockey franchise to a semifinal victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs just six games into your career. That’s surreal.

Kreider's biggest weapon is obviously his speed, and from his first game to his most recent ones, he's gradually learned when to use that speed and when to use it well. He's been explosive in the neutral zone when the puck is coming his way or even when it is on his stick, he hunts down pucks in the offensive zone with ease and he clearly has the ability to blow past opponents to create scoring chances just as we saw on his goal on Saturday. And might I add that he scored that goal at the end of his shift. Yes, he left the Caps defense in the dust at the end of his shift. 

Honest question here: Is there a faster player in the NHL right now than Chris Kreider? I'd say no, and if there is, I've yet to see him. 

Chris' wheels aren't the only aspect of his game that's been impressive so far. His hockey smarts and awareness in general are world class for a rookie. Let's go back to Game 7 against the Senators, early in the second period when he made a diving play along the blue-line of the offensive zone to prevent Ottawa from clearing out. Ryan Callahan then chipped the puck forward, where Derek Stepan picked up and fed Marc Staal for the game's first goal. The fact that Kreider saw that play develop before it actually did was astounding, and the full-out sprawling effort he made to get the puck to Callahan was even more amazing. 

Now, let's fast forward to the third period of yesterday's game, around the 8:30 mark, when Kreider again made a smart play along the boards in the offensive zone to strip Jason Chimera of the puck and then fight through two checks to flip it out to an open Brad Richards cutting to the net. Richards went on to score the goal that would basically put the game out of reach, all started by the work of Kreider on the forecheck. Meanwhile, on the bench, coach Tortorella stood licking his lips just thinking about what is to come in the future with this kid. 

A big part of Chris' early success has been the chemistry he's developed with center Derek Stepan. But maybe I should refer to it as 'pre-existing' chemistry since these two do have a history with each other. Remember that 2010 USA World Junior team that went on to defeat Team Canada for the Gold Medal? Well Stepan was the captain of that squad while Kreider was a rookie in his first year in the tournament. I think it's safe to say that those two certainly have some familiarity with each other, and that's possibly contributed to their success together. 

The greatest part about all of this is that Kreider will only continue to grow from here. If he's making headlines and getting MSG to chant his name now, imagine what he will be doing in a year or two years from now. The Rangers have a superstar in the making here, and he's already making a major impact in their bid for the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship. 

Fun Fact: Chris Kreider is the first player in NHL history to score two game-winning goals in the same postseason in which he played his first NHL game.

* Click Here for a Chris Kreider/New York Rangers 'Believe' desktop wallpaper I created if you care to use it. It's pretty sexy, I must say. 

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pacquiao knocks down Algieri six times in easy win

John Calipari gets daughter's birthday wrong

Carson: Hall of Fame career not worth concussion problems

Tiger hires new swing coach

Is Sting making his WWE debut at Survivor Series?

Eric Decker: It's tough watching Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Semaje Perine breaks Melvin Gordon's rushing record

Report: Chip Kelly, Eagles GM not seeing eye-to-eye

Pete Carroll open to playing Richard Sherman at WR

Jay Gruden: RG3 has been 'coddled for so long'

Red Sox have best offer on table for Pablo Sandoval?

LeBron: Kevin Love will get the ball 'if he demands it'

WATCH: Young reporter asks Helfrich funny question

Sager makes first appearance since leukemia diagnosis

Harvard kicker wears glasses

WATCH: Tennessee fans go a little overboard celebrating TD

Dwight Howard out indefinitely after having PRP on knee

Report: Mike Gundy pursuing Florida job

WATCH: Jameis Winston gets away with shoving an official

WATCH: Georgia's Chris Conley makes diving TD catch

WATCH: Nebraska blocks field goal, returns it for TD

Florida DL shows support for Will Muschamp with eye black

WATCH: Javale McGee kisses elderly fan sitting courtside

WATCH: Tim Tebow busts out a brief Steve Spurrier impression

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Cal gets daughter's bday wrong

Carson: Career not worth concussions

Report: Gundy pursuing Florida job

Tiger hires new swing coach

WATCH: Jameis Winston shoves ref

Florida DL supports Will Muschamp with eye black

Jay Gruden: RG3 has been 'coddled'

LeBron: Love needs to 'demand' the ball

Bills-Jets game will be free admission

Pete Carroll: Lynch is 'our guy'

Which NFL team will get the #1 pick?

Game of the week: Patriots vs. Lions

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.