RALEIGH, N.C. — Chris Kreider doesn’t take into consideration The Letter.
“Particularly after a Sport 7 win,” the Rangers’ longest-tenured participant mentioned late Monday night time.
If there may be some introspection happening inside Kreider, this isn’t the setting during which he’ll present it. A dingy again room in PNC Area in entrance of cameras and a gaggle of reporters doesn’t lend itself to that.
However there’s something poetic in Kreider, the bridge participant between the Rangers of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers of Igor Shesterkin, scoring twice in a domineering 6-2 Game 7 victory over Carolina to ship the Blueshirts again to the Jap Convention Remaining for the primary time since 2015.
That sequence was additionally in opposition to the Lightning. And Kreider, all of 23 years previous when the Rangers had been shut out in Sport 7 at Madison Sq. Backyard, shedding their final greatest probability to win a Stanley Cup with that group of gamers, is the one one left.
Since then, he has endured each nadir of the rebuild. The tail finish of Alain Vigneault’s tenure, which completed with a 34-39-9 2017-18 season — on the time, the primary shedding season for the franchise since 2003-04. Three years of David Quinn during which essentially the most significant video games had been three straight no-shows in opposition to the Hurricanes within the Toronto bubble. And in February 2018, The Letter, telling followers to anticipate a teardown.
That course of is over now. And that is the consequence.
“Rapidly, I’m the previous man,” Kreider mentioned. “However there’s clearly some similarities [between the teams].”
On the high of the record: Each could be characterised as “cockroaches.”
“We simply didn’t go away,” Kreider mentioned. “That’s at all times been, I assume, ingrained within the tradition of each good group I’ve been on right here. We don’t go away. Whatever the rating. No matter the place the sport’s at. We simply carry on looking for our sport.”
The Rangers needed to do no on the lookout for their sport on Monday night time, taking an early 2-0 lead — the second of which got here on a Kreider power-play tip-in — and by no means as soon as trying again. He added his second purpose at 3:59 of the third, a dashing breakaway with a backhand end previous Pyotr Kochetkov. It was Kreider’s sixtieth purpose this season after he tied Adam Graves for second in franchise historical past with 52 in the course of the common season. With two extra, he’ll cross the 62 that Graves completed with on the finish of that postseason.
The 12 months, after all, was 1993-94. The Rangers hope this season ends in the identical place as that one — a purpose that now appears extra tangible than ever.
Kreider, down and self-critical sitting in the identical seat simply days earlier after the Rangers suffered a demoralizing Sport 5 loss, had as little curiosity in dissecting what modified as he did in speaking about The Letter.
“Puck went in once I shot it,” he mentioned. “I simply assume a rising tide lifts all ships.”