Chris Kreider calls line demotion “not a surprise” following 3-2 OT loss

New York Rangers - Kreider demotion
New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller (79) celebrates with left wing Chris Kreider (20) after scoring on Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) in the first period of Game 2.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant turned heads when players like Chris Kreider and others were shifted from their usual lines during Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings. 

You could hardly blame the coach though. After blowing a 2-0 lead after one period, the Rangers looked lifeless and disorganized in the second period which ultimately cost them the game. 

Chris Kreider wasn’t the only player who was shifted away from his usual first-line spot. He was the player with the steepest fall though. Throughout the third period, Kreider was seen working on the fourth line and away from his beloved counterpart, Mika Zibanejad. 

To the 11th-year veteran, his “demotion” wasn’t one that he could argue. 

“Things aren’t going particularly the way we want them to. Personally, I’m not playing well so it’s not a surprise.” Kreider told reporters Monday. 

After Sunday’s loss, Gallant was steadfast on moving Kreider down to the fourth line saying “he deserved to be where he was.”

The former first-round pick for the Blueshirts has recorded four goals and six assists on the season, but his production hasn’t matched the career year he had last where when the winger scored a career-best 52 goals. 

This year, Kreider has dealt with a bit of bad puck luck to start the season. He’s fourth in the entire NHL in scoring chances with 126 on the season. Even though the lack of scoring may affect some players, the veteran isn’t seeing that as the main problem in his game.

“It shouldn’t. I don’t think it has. Personally and as a group, the other stuff matters just as much if not more…it’s the details and the details aren’t good enough.” Kreider added. 

Kreider may have had the largest drop in lines, but he wasn’t the only one who played poorly Sunday. That statement was echoed by Gallant and the rest of the team.

“We switched a lot of players around. I want everyone to be better, not just Chris Kreider.” Gallant said, “He has to pull his weight instead of going the other way, that’s what we need from our leaders.”

The Rangers’ struggles have been well-documented over the first month of the NHL season. A combination of poor defense, bad puck luck, and inconsistent play from their stars has left the coaching staff looking for changes any way he can find them. 

For Chris Krieder, the message has been put forth: while the team itself is struggling, he needs to be better. 

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