Chris Kreider cleared, status for Game 4 still in question
Chris Kreider has been cleared to return to the Rangers’ lineup. When he does is another question entirely.
For the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a broken left hand in March, Kreider participated in full team drills during the Rangers’ morning skate at the Garden, prior to Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the Metropolitan Division finals against the Penguins.
Afterward, Kreider and head coach Alain Vigneault described the wing as “day-to-day.” Neither would state with any certainty whether Kreider would play in a game the coach said was, “as close to a must[-win] game in my estimation.”
“He’s been medically cleared,” Vigneault said. “His fracture is now healed. So at this stage I’d say he’s day-to-day. I haven’t talked to him today, yet, but I found out [Tuesday] he was cleared medically.
“Today was the first time on the ice with his teammates. He’s day-to-day at this stage.”
Kreider broke the hand during the Rangers’ 3-1 over Columbus on March 21. He played in the next two games — March 22 at the Devils and March 24 against the Coyotes — before the organization announced on March 28 that Kreider would undergo surgery.
He did not play in the Rangers’ last nine games of the regular season, and has missed their first 10 playoff games.
“Obviously it’s been kind of a frustrating process. [I] just kind of [took it] day by day and try to control the things that I can control,” Kreider said. “Obviously you want to be in this time of year. [You] play the entire regular season so you can make the playoffs, to be in the playoffs. It’s not easy, but obviously we have an incredible squad and they’ve done an extremely good job to this point [and will] continue to do a very good job.”
Power play power outage
There has been one question repeatedly asked of the Rangers throughout this playoff season: How do they repair a power play that has been powerless?
Wednesday morning, it was Rick Nash’s turn to offer his thoughts.
“I think it’s keep it simple,” Nash said of a power play that is 3-for-42 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and scoreless in the last 34 opportunities. “I think we’re trying to make that extra pass. It’s shots, it’s traffic, it’s back to the basics when it’s struggling this much.”
Flyers switch up front office
The Flyers announced Wednesday assistant general manager and director of hockey operations Ron Hextall has been promoted to general manager. Former GM Paul Holmgren is now the Flyers’ president, and his role is to “oversee business and hockey operations.”
“Over the past eight seasons, Paul has done an outstanding job,” Flyers chairman Ed Snider said in a statement. “He picked up the pieces of our disastrous season in 2006 and immediately made changes that took us to the conference finals the very next year, and we have consistently been in contention ever since. He’s been a Flyer for 35 years and has earned the opportunity to run our entire organization.
“Ron is one of the league’s bright young stars on the management side, and we’re very fortunate to have him. He’s had success in Los Angeles and will now put that experience to work for us as general manager. We all remember the enthusiasm, work ethic and personality he had as a player, and we’re excited to watch him bring those qualities to building a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.