Rangers’ Chris Kreider leading the NHL in goals, can he win the Rocket Richard Award?

rangers kreider
Jan 22, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates a goal with defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider already joined some elite company in the extensive history of the New York Rangers when it took him just 43 games to score 30 goals.

Kreider looks to add to his league-leading total and the Rangers hope to continue their roll Thursday night when they visit the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets for their final road game before the All-Star break.

While the Rangers continue to surprise some in the NHL standings, Kreider’s torrid goal scoring pace has him in the running for the Maurice Richard Trophy. That is awarded annually to the NHL’s goal-scoring leader. An honor Alex Ovechkin has won 9 times.

Chris Kreider NHL goal leader

chris kreider rangers
Jan 15, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal with right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Kreider is one goal one ahead of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl for the league lead. The New York winger scored for the sixth straight game when he netted a power-play goal Monday in the Rangers’ pulsating 3-2 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings that was decided on Adam Fox’s goal in the sixth round of the shootout.

“The best thing about playing hockey is winning games,” Kreider said. “From a personal standpoint, scoring goals helps our team win. If I can keep doing that and helping our team win, that’s all that matters.”

Kreider became the fourth player in team history to reach 30 goals in 43 or fewer games, joining Don Murdoch (1976-77), Rod Gilbert (1971-72) and Bill Cook (1930-31, 1926-27). He also is the third player in team history to become the NHL’s first 30-goal scorer, joining Lynn Patrick (1941-42) and Cook.

Kreider has nine goals during his career-high streak and is the first Ranger with goals in six straight games since Mika Zibanejad (2019-20).

Can Kreider win the Rocket Richard?

Kreider, 30, has been an enigma for years on Broadway. Since he broke into the NHL, he has flashed blazing speed, a big shot, nifty hands, and a huge net front presence.

Yet, he’s never been able to break the 30 goal barrier until this season.

Sure, he’s had some solid campaigns in his career that spans 10 years. Last year, he finished with 20 in 50 games and was heading towards breaking that mark had it been a normal 82 game schedule.

Now he’s on pace to score 57 goals, which would set the mark for most goals in a season by a New York Ranger. That record is currently held by Jaromir Jagr, who accomplished the feat in 2005-2006.

He has a great chance to do it too. Kreider plays in all situations averaging 18:52 per game, the highest in his career to date. One potential issue is that half his goals (15) have come on the man advantage. New York’s PP ranks 9th in the NHL as of today hitting at a clip of 24.6%, and show no signs of slowing down.

Will it be enough to beat out the likes of Alex Ovechkin, and Leon Draisaitl? You also can’t leave out last year’s defending champ, Auston Matthews.

One thing is for certain, Kreider is where no one expected him to be and that’s noteworthy even if he doesn’t take home the hardware.

–Field Level Media contributed to this article

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