By Phil Stacey
---- — BOSTON — After he had finished riding an exercise bike outside the New York Rangers’ locker room with a weighted vest strapped on, Chris Kreider stepped out of the adjacent hallway at the TD Garden early last night to find his family and friends.
His team’s 5-2 loss to the Bruins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, putting Boston up two games to none in their best-of-7 series, was, for the briefest of moments, temporarily put on hold.
But then it was back to business for the Boxford native and his fellow Blueshirts, who now head home to Madison Square Garden after having lost two on the road and, beginning tomorrow night in Game 3, face the prospect of having to defeat the Bruins four times in five games to capture the series.
“There were definitely times we had our surges; we talked about that between periods. We were happy with how we played at times, but we also had some missed opportunities,” said Kreider, whose team never led yesterday’s game. “They’re a good team that knows how to capitalize and jump on turnovers.”
Again skating left wing on New York’s fourth line, Kreider’s ice time (7:52) and total shifts (10) were limited. He did see some action on the Rangers’ second power play unit and registered one shot for the game; his line was also on the ice for Boston’s second goal, scored by center Gregory Campbell in the middle stanza.
“(The Bruins) capitalized on breakdowns and opportunities,” he said, “and we probably didn’t force their hand to the point where they were creating as many and didn’t capitalize on as many as we’d like.”
Unlike most of the 17,565 fans that filled the Garden to capacity for the 159th straight sellout, the Kreiders had hoped for a different result. But like their son, they’re staying positive and hoping he and his teammates will be back in Boston next Saturday for a potential Game 5.
“I think Chris has grown up a lot this year and matured a lot,” said his mother, Kathy Kreider. “He’s has had a lot of good experiences; I think he’s getting stronger, physically and mentally. He’s more determined than ever; he just has to keep working hard.”
David Kreider, wearing a navy Rangers baseball hat and a Team USA jacket that was the same color, said the ups and downs his son has experienced this season between playing for the Rangers and their American Hockey League affiliate in Connecticut have all been positive learning experiences for him.
“That’s the key word, positive. All he wants to do is stay positive,” said his father. “Chris knows you can only worry about what you can control and do what you do.
“There’s always room for improvement, and he recognizes that. There’s a lot of stuff for him to improve on, and when you get your opportunities you have to make the most of it.”
The Rangers lost their first two games against Washington in the Eastern quarterfinals, so they know what it’s like to come back and capture a series, said Kreider. Being back home while trying to control Boston’s surges is key if they hope to win tomorrow night’s must-win Game 3.
“They’re a team that’s good with the lead, but so are we,” said Kreider. “We have to stay positive ... just take it one game at a time and move forward.”