Chris Kreider didn't bring his 2012 playoff magic to the AHL this season.
It's unreasonable to expect a 21-year-old with zero regular season experience to instantly become the best player on the Connecticut Whale, but Kreider was so impressive for the Rangers during the playoffs, that many fans expected him to easily outperform AHL competition.
Kreider set a very tough standard for himself in 18 playoff games with the Rangers last season, when he totaled five goals, two assists and a minus four rating.
Through 16 games with the Connecticut Whale so far this season, he's scored four times, has six assists and a minus-one rating.
Comparing stats from the NHL playoffs to the beginning of the AHL season is like comparing the stats of a quarterback in the Super Bowl to his stats in the preseason. Yes, it is the same player, but his level of fitness, competitiveness and chemistry with his teammates are totally different.
One statistical difference worth noting is Kreider has been in the penalty box for 37 minutes so far this season. Granted, he received 15 of those penalty minutes in one night for a boarding major and game misconduct against the Norfolk Admirals, but Kreider should not be averaging over two minutes of time in the box per game.
While with the Rangers in the playoffs, Kreider only had six minutes of penalties over 18 games. The drastic rise in penalty time served signifies a lack of discipline and/or a lack of focus. Kreider is too quick of a skater to be so often in a bad position where he has to slash, hook or trip.
Kreider went from winning an NCAA Championship to becoming an overnight star on a playoff team within a few weeks. Now, he's skating with the eighth-ranked team in the AHL because of the lockout.
It's understandable that a young man who has achieved so much so early might daydream while he's waiting to continue his meteoric rise to hockey stardom, but great players always play their hardest, regardless of the competition.
Kreider did recently have two assists when the Whale put up six against the Worcester Sharks, so maybe he is just starting to find his fitness.
Some day, NHL games will be played again, and until that day, Kreider would be smart to stay out of the penalty box and show off the great speed and hands that made him such a focal point for the future hopes of Rangers' fans.