Chris Kreider

Kreider finally came through for the Rangers in Game 5

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Chris Kreider finished the regular season as New York’s leading goalscorer, but when he failed to produce anything through two playoff games, head coach Alain Vigneault called him out for being ordinary.

Vigneault’s tactic didn’t really work, as Kreider was invisible in Game 3, and the Rangers ended up losing the game 3-1.

In Game 5, Kreider finally came through in the biggest moment. He recovered the loose puck in his own end and skated it into the offensive zone before getting the puck to Mika Zibanejad, who scored the game-winning goal to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

“You stick with it. You persevere,” Kreider said after the win, per The Post. “I’m not the only player to go through a tough time. You don’t put your head down. You make adjustments. You don’t let the valleys overwhelm you or demoralize you.

“Now we get ready. Now we get to go home and try to end it.”

Since that ugly performance on home ice in Game 3, New York has been pretty good. The Canadiens may have been the better team in the first half of last night’s game, but somewhere around the midway point of the second period, things changed. The Rangers were even better in OT.

If they can keep playing this way and Henrik Lundqvist continues to be as dominant as he’s been through five games, it’ll be hard for Montreal to beat them twice in a row.

Will Buchnevich get his chance tonight?

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Head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t commit to giving Pavel Buchnevich his playoff debut, but it does seem likely that the 22-year-old forward will draw into the Rangers’ lineup tonight against Montreal.

Buchnevich practiced with the power play yesterday. New York is 0-for-10 with the man advantage in the series — just one of the reasons the Rangers trail the Canadiens, 2-1.

“Our power play has had quite a few areas where it hasn’t executed so far,” Vigneault said this morning. “When we finished off the season our power play was giving us momentum, and giving us timely goals. I’m very confident that tonight we’re going to turn it around. Pavel there, or Pavel not there, we’ve looked at a couple of areas. We’ve gotta execute, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

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Buchnevich was not a particularly big producer on the power play during the regular season, scoring once with two assists in 76:52 of PP ice time. But he’s got the skill and shot to make a difference, assuming he gets the chance.

If Buchnevich does play tonight, it may be on a line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Those three practiced together yesterday, with Tanner Glass taking turns with Buchnevich.

Related: Vigneault vows a better Rangers effort in Game 4

Vigneault: Rangers top players ‘don’t have it right now’

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Prior to Game 3 on Sunday, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault called out Chris Kreider for being “ordinary” in the first two games of the series.

Vigneault’s message didn’t really seem to have much of an impact on Kreider (or any other Ranger for that matter), as New York was dominated for most of the game.

As you can imagine, the Rangers coach’s patience with his top players is thinning. Instead of singling out Kreider, he decided to send a direct message to all of his top forwards after that ugly Game 3 loss.

“Right now, our best line is our fourth line,” Vigneault said, per the Bergen Record. “Our top players need to find their game. They obviously don’t have it right now.”

He’s got a point. Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast have given an honest effort in each game.  In their only victory of the series, it was Glass that scored the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win.

Meanwhile, the top line of Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan have combined to score one goal and one assist in the first three games of the series.

The other issue, is that they don’t seem to be very good at home. It’s been a problem throughout the season and it’s continued into the playoffs.

“I think it’s important we start with ourselves and not look at what they are doing,” Henrik Lundqvist said after the game. “Yes, they are a good team. We have to give more at home, in the playoffs, or we aren’t going to win. We need more, it’s as simple as that.”

The Rangers can’t afford to go back to the Bell Center down 3-1, so they’ll need to put together an incredible effort to make up for the stinker they delivered last night.

Game 4 will be held at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

Vigneault calls out Kreider for being ‘ordinary’ in first two games of series

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The New York Rangers are in a pretty good spot heading into Game 3 of their series against the Canadiens.

They got a split in the first two games in Montreal and they came within 17 seconds of going up 2-0, but Tomas Plekanec and Alexander Radulov had other ideas.

Through two games, the Rangers have received some incredible goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and balanced scoring from their forwards.

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In Game 1, fourth-line winger Tanner Glass scored the game-winning goal, while Michael Grabner, who plays on the third line, added the empty-netter. In the second game, they got goals from Mats Zuccarello (first line), Rick Nash (second line) and Grabner again.

But as awesome as balanced scoring is at this time of year, teams still need their best players to stand out.

On Sunday morning, head coach Alain Vigneault made it clear that his team needs more from winger Chris Kreider.

“Chris Kreider has had two ordinary games,” Vigneault said, per RDS’ Luc Gelinas (quote has been translated). “I expect more from him.”

The 25-year-old has been skating on a line with Zuccarello and Derek Stepan, but he still hasn’t recorded a point in the series and he’s managed just four shots on goal.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers make any changes to their top line ahead of Game 3 at MSG tonight. We’ll only find out during the pre-game warmup because Vigneault is keeping that information close to the vest.

Related:

Rangers look to put home struggles behind them going into Game 3

Here’s your Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Sunday

Kreider won’t shy away from crashing crease vs. Price, Canadiens

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NEW YORK (AP) The New York Rangers don’t mind starting the Stanley Cup playoffs on the road.

After all, they led the NHL with 27 road wins in the regular season.

And the Rangers had 21 wins at Madison Square Garden this season, tied for the fewest home wins among the 16 teams that reached the postseason.

So playing the opening two games of their series at the Bell Centre in Montreal is not a big problem.

“Starting on the road here will give us a good chance to establish our playoff game,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “Hopefully we’ll have good Games 1 and 2 and that’ll carry over to our barn for 3 and 4. I just think we’re worried about Game 1 and play that way throughout the whole playoffs.”

The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, best remembered for when Rangers forward Chris Kreider slid into Montreal goalie Carey Price and knocked him out for the series . The Rangers won the series in six games before losing to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

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“My game hasn’t changed,” Kreider said. “For me to be effective, I need to go get to the crease. That’s where I’m going to score goals.”

Kreider, who led the Rangers with 28 goals in the regular season, expects to hear from the Canadiens fans.

“That’s one thing in particular that I remember is that rink being energetic and really emotional,” he said. “They’ve got an incredibly passionate fan base so it’s a fun place to play.”

Here are some other things to look for in the matchup between Original Six franchises beginning with Game 1 on Wednesday night:

SEASON SWEEP

The Canadiens swept all three meetings in the regular season. Price had a 2.27 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in those matchups and is 15-5-1 with a 1.82 GAA and .940 save percentage in his career against the Rangers.

“They’ve had some success against us the last couple of years, but I think our focus is definitely what we did a couple of years ago in the playoffs,” Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said.

“They’re a great team. They have a lot of speed, good structure, a great goaltender, so it’s a going to be a good test and a great challenge for us.”

KING HENRIK

Going into the playoffs, Lundqvist leads all active NHL goaltenders in playoff appearances (116) and playoff wins (55), and he is tied for first among active goaltenders in playoff shutouts (nine).

INJURIES

Max Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with 35 goals in the regular season, left practice Tuesday after getting hit by a stick. Coach Claude Julien said Pacioretty is expected to play. Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin will miss Game 1 with an injury. Shea Weber and Jordie Benn are expected to play.

FRESH START

The Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien during the season and brought back Julien for his second stint with Montreal. The Canadiens went 16-7-1 under Julien and won the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs in 2015-16.

“Every year it’s tough to make the playoffs so when you have that opportunity, you want to take advantage of it,” Julien said.

“You want to stay even-keel. You want to get ready to play. We play tomorrow and we’ll deal with the next day afterward.”

SLOW FINISH

The Rangers finished the regular season 8-9-4 but welcome the chance of a fresh start. They have reached the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

“Everybody has a clean slate and a great opportunity in front of them to make a difference and an impact in the playoffs,” coach Alain Vigneault said.

“This is what we worked for the whole season and what every player and coach works for, to get an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. We’re one of the 16 teams that have that opportunity.”

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