It's not often that such a celebrated addition makes his way on to the ice the day before a first-place team opens up the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that is precisely the situation Chris Kreider skated into Wednesday with the Rangers.
Less than 24 hours after agreeing to terms on his entry-level contract and departing Boston College, Kreider was out on the ice at the MSG Training Center skating with his new teammates for the first time Wednesday morning. Wearing a green jersey, Kreider alternated on line rushes with the Brandon Dubinsky-Brian Boyle-Ruslan Fedotenko line combination as the Blueshirts prepared to open up their best-of-seven first-round playoff series with the Ottawa Senators Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
"It was a pretty quick turnaround," said Kreider after practice. "Day One was pretty exciting. I was just really happy to get on the ice and finally start playing some hockey. They definitely sent the message that if I want to play I'm going to have to prove that I am ready to play, and that I will have to earn my ice time, which is how i think it should be. I have no expectations coming in, but I'm going to be like a sponge and learn from everyone."
Rangers head coach John Tortorella met with the media after Kreider did and explained that he would not be providing daily updates on his lineup through the playoffs, so as to avoid the daily speculation on if the rookie would be inserted into the lineup or not. Tortorella did express his pleasure that Kreider had turned pro, however.
Though he said he felt nervous, Kreider appeared extremely calm and poised, and respectful, while facing the media horde after practice. Considering his big-game pedigree---two NCAA championships, a gold medal in the World Junior Championships, three Hockey East titles, three Beanpot Tournament championships---it was no surprise that Kreider handled the press conference so smoothly.
"I was pretty open-minded (about turning pro), but, to be honest, I didn't really focus too much on it during the season," explained Kreider. "I knew I'd have a dceision to make after the season was over, but I really wasn't looking to that decision. But pretty much immediately (after winning the NCAA championship last weekend) I started thinking about this."
Neither Kreider nor Tortorella would speculate on whether or not the rookie will see any playing time during the post-season, though his presence on the roster certainly adds some quality depth.
"Hopefully when I do play I will bring an energetic up-tempo game," explained the 20 year-old Kreider. "I like to keep my feet moving and i know that I am a pretty big body, so I will try and wreak as much havoc as I can."
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