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Kreider To Play, Hank To Start Again

Chris Kreider was the first player to hit the ice Thursday morning for the team's morning skate, and why shouldn't he be itching to get out there considering he was just recalled from the minor leagues during his hottest stretch of offensive play this season?

Kreider, who had six goals and an assist in eight games with the Connecticut Whale after being sent down by the Rangers a couple of weeks ago, skated on an All-American line with Brian Boyle and J.T. Miller during the morning skate, and will be in the lineup this evening when the Rangers host the Florida Panthers at The Garden.

"It's good to be back," said a smiling Kreider after the morning skate. "The team always has had my best interests in mind, that has always been a consistent thing here. They just want to help (me) to reach (my) potential. You'd rather be under the microscope than a guy they don't worry about, right?"

The Rangers first round selection in the 2009 draft has been back and forth with the NHL club and its AHL affiliate this season, playing 42 games in the minors and 11 with the big club. In 11 games with the Rangers Kreider has one goal and two points.

In his most recent stint with the Whale Kreider played consistently on a line with veteran center Kris Newbury, and on Thursday the rookie praised the vet for helping to get him going.

"I was playing with Kris Newbury and he is such a good player, such a good passer," explained Kreider. "He made things so easy for me."

Kreider also said the chance to play 20 minutes a night in every situation---even strength, power play, and shorthanded---helped keep him "engaged" and raised his confidence level. Now that he is back with the Rangers, no matter how many minutes he might play, Kreider wants to keep things moving forward.

"Nothing changes for me, my focus remains the same," stated Kreider. "I will keep working on improving in all areas of my game."

With Kreider's arrival, veteran winger Taylor Pyatt shifted from the third line to the fourth during the morning skate, replacing Micheal Haley who was reassigned to the Whale on Wednesday. The top two lines remain the same as they were the previous two games.

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Henrik Lundqvist was the first goalie off the ice Thursday morning, signaling that he will make his sixth straight start in goal---and 12th in the Rangers last 13 games. It comes as a mild surprise as the Blueshirts are finishing up a three-games-in-four-nights stretch and back up Martin Biron has not played since beating the Capitals 4-1 in Washington 11 days ago.

Most importantly Lundqvist said after the morning skate that his neck---which was snapped back when elbowed in the head early in the second period of Tuesday's 3-2 win in New Jersey---feels fine and that the headaches he felt the rest of the game did not linger afterwards, though his neck is still a little sore.

Lundqvist will try and backstop the Rangers to a third straight win this evening. Their longest winning streak this season is four games, and they have also won three in a row one other time.

What do you think of adding a rejuvinated Kreider back into the Rangers lineup tonight? And what about starting Hank in goal? Share your thoughts below.

Mar 21 - 3:35pm
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