NHL Playoffs 2012: Rangers' Chris Kreider Making a Big Impact in Big Moments

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2012

Rangers fans have been praying for a young star like Chris Kreider.
Rangers fans have been praying for a young star like Chris Kreider.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Brian Boyle may be feeling like Wally Pipp.

After Boyle suffered a concussion from a hit by Ottawa's Chris Neil in Game 5, the New York Rangers called upon rookie Chris Kreider.

After three playoff games in the NHL, Kreider has already made a tremendous impact for the Rangers. Let the jersey sales begin.

Kreider helped the Boston College Golden Eagles win the NCAA championship this year, and then was thrust into the Stanley Cup playoff lineup when Boyle was unable to go.

Kreider promptly made his mark, scoring the game-winning goal against Ottawa in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. He then went out and played a fantastic Game 7 to push the Rangers past the pesky Senators and into the next round.

As if that wasn't enough, Kreider kept up the intensity in Game 1 against the Washington Capitals on Saturday afternoon, practically winning the game all by himself.

With the score tied 1-1 in the third period, Kreider raced up the ice and received a pass from Derek Stepan. Looking like a seasoned veteran, Kreider wound up and crushed a shot just past the glove of Washington goalie Braden Holtby to give New York a 2-1 edge.

As if that wasn't enough, 90 seconds later, Kreider assisted on Brad Richards' goal, which put the Rangers up 3-1 and sucked the life from the Capitals. For a game in which the Rangers had only 14 shots on goal, Kreider's offense provided a tremendous boost to the Blueshirts.

Possessing size, speed and skill, Chris Kreider already looks prepared to shine as a Ranger for many years to come.

He took home the MVP of the 2011 Beanpot tournament, giving Boston College another title. And he was named the first star of the game for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday.

If he keeps playing like this, he could be taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The young prospect does not seem fazed by the bright lights of Broadway. NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey seems made for this kid. And while it's far too early for a coronation, he's shaping up to be the next hockey star in the Big Apple.