Happy 21st birthday, Chris Kreider

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The good times keep rolling for New York Rangers rookie Chris Kreider.

In the month of April alone he’s won an NCAA championship, made his NHL debut, played a key role in New York’s first series win since 2008, scored the winning goal in Game 1 versus Washington and today, turned the legal drinking age.

From Aaron Gross of the Bergen Record:

Rookie left wing Chris Kreider, a difference-maker so far for the Rangers in the six NHL postseason games he’s played since signing out of Boston College, turns 21 today. Since, as we chronicled the other day, his new favorite word is “surreal” to describe how his life has transformed the past three weeks, including leading the Eagles to their second NCAA title in three seasons, I asked Kreider this morning if this is the most surreal birthday he’s had.

“Yeah,” Kreider said. “I’ve had some weird holidays and birthdays. I’ve had Christmases in Saskatoon and Buffalo and birthdays in Cologne, Germany and Slovakia.”

Someone else asked him about missing out on spending his 21st birthday with his college buddies.

“I’d rather do this than go out,” Kreider said.

While New York’s courtship of Kreider was covered quite extensively on PHT (see here, here, here and here) not even we figured he’d made this much of an impact at the NHL level. Doing what Kreider has done — making his NHL debut in the playoffs the same year as winning an NCAA title — had only been accomplished once before, by Tony Hrkac for North Dakota/St. Louis in 1987.

Hrkac barely made a blip at the pro level, going pointless in three games, and the Blues were ousted in the first round.

Kreider? He’s doing a heckuva lot more than that.

On that note, full credit has to go to Rangers GM Glen Sather for not only recognizing Kreider’s ability but having the gumption to throw him into the fire (and burn a year off Kreider’s entry-level deal in the process.)

It was widely speculated Kreider was the deal-breaker that kept the Rangers from acquiring Rick Nash from Columbus at the deadline — now we’re starting to see why.