There's not much the line of Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello hasn't done since being created a week ago. Scoring. Play-making. Skating. Hitting. You name it. But to say their start to last night's game was rough would be an understatement as their first three shifts were entirely in the Rangers zone.
And Alain Vigneault wasted no time expressing his disappointment with their effort as he immediately benched the trio. Consider the message received, as the line combined for nine points (3g, 6a) the rest of the way, including Derek Stepan's first three goals of the season. The sweetest of the goals was the second which was the result of a hustle play by Kreider followed by a ridiculous behind the back pass from Zuccarello. Here's the entire hat trick...
Here's Vigneault on that line's response to the benching (via Blueshirts United)...
"Their first three shifts were totally in our end. I must have sat that line out eight or nine minutes in the first period. I liked the way they responded. I challenged them and they responded the right way on the ice. They had some real solid puck possession shifts. The line ended up being real good for us by the end of the night after having a so-so start."
Kreider on Stepan finally breaking through into the scoring column (via Blueshirts United)...
“I think it was just a matter of time (until Derek Stepan scored). He was getting so many chances, and he was doing things the right way and playing great hockey, so it was just a matter of time before he started getting the bounces.”
Stepan on the line's recent success...
“The last three games games our line has kind of clicked, and I give a lot of credit to those guys, they've pushed my pace.”
...talk about a $6.15 million weight taken off of Stepan's back with that hat trick.
...and man, you just have to love the snarl Kreider has been playing with. Whether it's fighting for position in front of the net on the power play or knocking an opponent off the puck to regain possession, the kid has finally figured out how to use his strength to his advantage.
...i also feel the line's response to the benching is even more proof that this team is buying what AV is selling. No trepidation or playing scared, especially from Kreider, from that point on, which always seemed to be the case for players under Torts.
I like the chemistry of that DMC line. Good combination of skills. Really starting to see why I've always been so high on Zucc. His game is simple and direct with his nose always on the goal and is all about going "point A to point B" as quickly as possible. He doesn't over-stick handle so he rarely gets trapped in those places where his weight puts him at a disadvantage, he has guile and makes ridiculous passes that most players wouldn't even dream of. First test: pass. next test (DMC): Going up against teams that play physical and will try to intimidate the smaller players: ???
AV knows what he is doing so much for the country club rumors. They guys holds players accountable the right way.all those wins and heh was a game away from a cup win, he was a great hire.
btw... DelZotto was still bad last night. I'm not in a panic mode on him, but boy, if Sather can trade him, he really should. If DelZotto can't thrive in AV's system, not sure where he can. Frankly, I'll take a 2nd rounder for DZ and hope we draft well. At worst, we free up cap space.
They are playing well, and we still have Callahan and Rick Nash (arguably our best player) coming back rather soon hopefully. As long as they just keep getting better every game it is a great sign. 20 games is what I felt it would take for everyone to get accustomed to the system, so a 6-7 start is better than I anticipated. Huge week coming up against some good teams.
Also, Kreider is a beast.
Kreider on that 2nd goal was sick. Did everyone see how fast he got to the defenseman in the corner and stripped him off the puck using his body and speed? Zucc made a heck of a pass to Step, but that goal was all started by CK.
You can also see how speed is essential to AV's system. Why guys like Kreider, Hags, Zucc, etc. are really starting to thrive.
@shoot_the_goalie DZ and a second for Simmonds. Or DZ and a first for Voracek :P
@KreiderisTheChosenOne Have a post on that set for 1pm.