by Patrick Hoffman on 01/14/13 at 09:00 AM ET
When an NHL rookie makes his debut and burst onto the scene in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and does well, expectations are always high for the following season.
This is exactly the case when it comes to New York Rangers' forward Chris Kreider. In the Blueshirts' magical postseason last year, Kreider showed that he can play the game by picking up 5 goals and adding 2 assists for 7 points in 18 games.
What was also telling about Kreider is that he could be counted on to score big goals. In the playoffs last year, two of Kreider's five goals were game-winning goals.
When the NHL lockout got underway, Kreider joined the team's AHL club, the Connecticut Whale, and was expected to continue to producing, considering what he did in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Kreider, he struggled for a bit and went through some growing pains.
In 33 games with the Whale, Kreider had 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points. Kreider was also -6 and had 55 penalty minutes.
While it would be easy for the team's coaching staff to worry, the club is taking the right approach by being patient with the 21-year-old left winger. The team knows that he had some trouble down in the AHL but at the same time, told him to just focus on becoming a better player.
Kreider said the following to New York Newsday Rangers' beat writer Steve Zipay regarding what advice the team's coaches have given him so far:
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."
Furthermore, Kreider knows that nothing is guaranteed in this league. Kreider also told this to Zipay:
"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."
As such, the team and its fans must continue to be patient with this youngster. Obviously with such a short and condensed schedule, it will be important for Kreider to get off to a good start but if he does not, there is no need to press the panic button.
Kreider has a good future in this league and if everyone is patient, they will all be able to witness it.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.