Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/30/13
It comes with the territory, with the first-round selection in 2009, the breakout performance in the 2012 playoffs, the washout in 2013 playing for a coach who never even tried to hide his lack of belief in the Rangers’ youngest poster boy. Chris Kreider, you see, isn’t just some guy who is trying to make his way in the NHL, isn’t just one of a crowd wearing Blueshirts. The name precedes him as surely do the expectations of the fan base that, with good reason, is all but perpetually disappointed investing its emotions in Rangers youth. “Whatever attention there is on me from the outside is something I’m able to put out of my mind pretty easily,” Kreider said following his team’s impressive 3-2 victory over the Islanders at the Coliseum on Tuesday during which he scored his first goal of the season. “I don’t look at myself as separate from anyone else, I’m just here to try and do my job and help the team win. That’s my entire focus. “But I think I have a decent ability to sift through the negative and focus on the positive. So if people are disappointed in me for not making the team out of training camp, or expect more, I accept that as part of playing in New York for fans who are so emotional about their team. “It’s part of what makes it so special.” Brad Richards played an inspired game. Cam Talbot, Alain Vigneault’s rather curious choice to start in goal, was poised and solid. Mats Zuccarello played like a man possessed in the wake of being scratched last week in Philadelphia. Carl Hagelin was a young man in a very big hurry in his first game off the long-term injury list, his skates spinning up virtual clouds of dust like Roadrunner on the go. The Rangers played desperate, hungry man’s hockey in dominating the Islanders below the hash marks, in refusing to allow the suburbanites to get a leg up on them in this Battle of New York, even if the Islanders are actually three points up on them in the standings. It is a Battle of New York, not one for New York. For there is Broadway and there is Uniondale. There is Manhattan and there are the outer boroughs. There are Original Six teams and there is everyone else in the NHL. And despite the history the Islanders made three decades ago, the fact of the matter is the Rangers have finished ahead of them eight straight seasons and 15 of the last 19 years. Tuesday could have been a coming-out party for new Islander Thomas Vanek. Maybe some other time. Tuesday could have represented a step for the Islanders. Maybe some other time for this team that has won only four of its first 12 games, with only the addition of three losers’ points puffing up the start. It is an exaggeration to suggest Tuesday was a coming-out party for Kreider. He had his a couple of springs ago. But that turned out to be a cameo. He wasn’t ready when the lockout ended last year and wasn’t quite good enough to earn a spot out of camp this year before he was recalled in the wake of injuries to Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan. Kreider has played four games since the promotion. They represent the four best games of his embryonic career. He is playing with a purpose, using his speed, living in the dirty areas of the ice, competing for pucks, going to the front of the net essentially every trip down the ice.
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