Rangers general manager Glen Sather would not part with Chris Kreider when Columbus general manager Scott Howson demanded in trade deadline negotiations that the soon-to-be 21-year-old left wing be included in a package for Rick Nash.
Kreider is making his general manager look prescient. The Boston College product has been a revelation in the series.
Rangers coach John Tortorella has moved Kreider from the fourth line to the second line with Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan, with whom he scored the game-winning goal in Game 6. His speed has forced Ottawa defenders to hesitate to jump in the play.
Equally important, he has played well in the defensive and neutral zones and along the boards.
“No chance he’s intimidated from what I’ve seen of him,” John Tortorella said of Kreider Thursday morning. “I wasn’t sure what he was going to be. I don’t know the kid.
“I’ll put it to you this way, I have no hesitation in putting him in all situations tonight.”
Kreider termed Tortorella’s praise a “confidence boost.”
“I think every single shift, every single game, [I am] more and more comfortable,” Kreider said. “I’ve played with [Stepan] a lot so I know what kind of player he is. Even moreso, he’s really personable. He’s been helping me, talking to me.
“It’s kind of the way he plays, his general ability; you can throw anyone on his wing and they’ll be comfortable with him. He’s a great player. He’s been extremely helpful.”
As he did Wednesday, Tortorella said that Game 7 at the Garden would be “an advantage” for the Rangers, but refused to elaborate on his belief.
“I’m not going to get into an explanation about it,” Tortorella said. “I just feel that we’re at an advantage going into our building for Game 7.”
The Rangers have won all three Game 7s they have played at Madison Square Garden.
Norris finalists named
The NHL announced Erik Karlsson was a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league’s top defenseman. He was joined by Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Nashville’s Shea Weber.
“Obviously, [I’m] very proud. It’s a big honor to be named that. It’s been a good year,” Karlsson said. “It feels good to accomplish something. I’m just proud to be up there.”
Karlsson totaled 19 goals and 78 points, along with a plus-16 rating, in 81 regular season games. He has a goal and four penalty minutes in the series against the Rangers.
“I just knew he could skate real good,” coach Paul MacLean said. “I knew if we could get him to react and skate, he would have the opportunity and skills to be a very good player. I don’t know if we felt at that time that he would be good enough to be a Norris candidate. But he certainly played well enough this season to be a legitimate candidate.”
Added Daniel Alfredsson: “I’m happy for him. He’s had an unbelievable year.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.