During the third period of Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers, Chris Kreider delivered a questionable hit on Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson. After Gudbranson released the puck, Kreider finished his check. The problem was it was a tad late and he stuck out his leg tripping Gudbranson in the process. He was hurt but eventually got to the bench and returned for his next shift.
With the Rangers on a power play late, Gudbranson not surprisingly challenged Kreider. He didn’t accept it. You can understand why he was upset. It was a dangerous hit that could’ve seriously injured him. At minimum, it should’ve been a tripping minor. Instead, nothing was called. After the game, the Panthers were steamed. Jaromir Jagr questioned whether Kreider has respect for the game.
At times, I wonder about him. There are shifts where he dominates with his rare combo of physicality and speed. Then there are shifts where you barely notice him. Of course, with a player who plays aggressively there will be incidents due to his size. However, is he using good judgment? That can be questioned. He was ejected in a home game against Minnesota for a hit from behind on Jonas Brodin. He also has gotten away with other iffy plays that make you scratch your head.
Most of the attention has been on Kreider’s goalie hit list. Ever since he knocked out Carey Price in Game 1 of last year’s Conference Final, he’s been under a microscope. In that incident along with one that injured Craig Anderson, he was going at max speed and was tripped losing control. Those are excusable. It’s the late hits and plays like this one below on Scottie Upshall that should draw ire.
Kreider is developing a bad reputation. However, the NHL has never fined or suspended him. Even if it’s due to his aggression, he must use his head. Of course, the Rangers want him to play on the edge. However, bad penalties such as the one below on Carl Soderberg which Chris Kelly responded to by defending his teammate can’t happen.