Head coach John Tortorella was resigned to the fact Chris Kreider was the best solution to a bad situation.
“The thing we settled on was [Kreider’s] speed,” Tortorella said in his pregame press conference before last night’s match against the Panthers. “We want to try to play with more pace so that’s who we go with.”
Kreider was called up for the fourth time this season Wednesday in response to Brian Boyle’s injury in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Flyers. Tortorella said Boyle “won’t be in” the next two games — Friday in Buffalo and Sunday afternoon against the Devils.
Tortorella had Kreider on a fourth line with Darroll Powe and Arron Asham. When asked by Metro New York if he envisioned Kreider skating on Brad Richards’ line — Richards centered Mats Zuccarello and Ryane Clowe — Tortorella said, “I’m not going to go over my lines with you.”
Kreider has three points (two goals and an assist) in 17 games with the Rangers. He recorded 23 points (12 goals and 11 assists) in 48 games with the Whale. However, Tortorella has routinely espoused his concern Kreider’s development not be stymied by the Rangers’ need for depth and offense.
“He’s played some games [with the Rangers this season],” Tortorella said of Kreider. “There [are] a number of players we talked about. I’m still not crazy about bringing a kid here.
“His asset is his speed, especially. That’s what we go with.”
Fighting for No. 8
The facts are what they are.
The Rangers are holding on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with six games remaining in the abbreviated season. For a group who entered the season believing itself a Stanley Cup contender, the season has been tinged with frustration and confusion.
But Tortorella does not sense panic with his group.
“We’re fine, we’re fine,” Tortorella said when asked how the coaching staff minimizes pressure on the players. “Go about your business. Believe in the team, which I do. Just go about our business.”
Rangers notes …
» The organization announced Thursday morning it agreed to terms with free agent forward Michael Kantor. Kantor, 21, played last season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves where he recorded 20 goals and 33 points in 56 games. He added four points and 12 penalty minutes in nine playoff games.
» Ryan Callahan won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. It marked the fourth time in his career that Callahan won the prestigious award named for a New York City police officer who was wounded in duty in 1988.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.