Mika Zipanjad, Chris Kreider, Chemistry leads the Rangers

Tampa, Florida – They might not have been Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Maybe not Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving either.

But in Rangerstown, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad star in Buddy’s longest running movie.

The chemistry they developed on the ice during his six years in New York was one of the driving forces for the Blueshirts in their march to the Conference Final that continued here with Game 4 on Tuesday, each with their own share of team goals. lead in 10.

But it is the relationship that the two great players forged at the club from the ice that seems most special. You can see them every time they get together, sitting side by side in the availability of post-game modes.

You see how protective Kreider is for his friend and teammate, with whom the winger has shared 73% of his pentathlon ice time over the past three years including the 2020 bubble and this tournament.

The latest example came after Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Lightning where Zipanegad, Kreider and Linem Frank Vatrano were on the ice to net the winning goal of Ondrej Balat just 42 seconds into overtime.

A question was asked about the goal to Zibanejad, who was with Palat when the Tampa Bay winger – who had previously tormented Rangers in the 2015 conference final – accepted a superb feed from Nikita Kucherov before defeating Igor Shesterkin from the bottom right. Circle.

But even with the question not being entirely completed, Kreider reached out to Zebaninejad and indicated that he would respond. When he did, Player 20 took full responsibility for the goal, stating the decisions he made against the decisions he should have made.

Zibanjad remained my mother.

Hours before match four, coach Gerard Gallant said: “I didn’t know Chris said it was his fault. I don’t think it was his fault, they made a great play. They made two great passes and great play to score the goal.”

“But Chris is a leader on our team, he’s a guy with a character, he wants to fight hard and win. He played really well in the playoffs for us. I just think he wants to step up and say, ‘It’s my fault,’ whether that is or not.”

This is the Zen Kreider that developed during his New York decade. This is Kreider who has absorbed the wisdom of life skills imparted by Martin St. Louis, among others. And this isn’t the first time the winger has spoken about his teammate.

Rangers forward Chris Kreider celebrates with Mika Zipanjad after scoring a second-half goal in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Final in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday, June 5, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
Rangers striker Chris Kreider celebrates with Mika Zibanijad after scoring a goal in the second half of Game Three.
Cory Sibkin/New York Post

He did so during last season, when Zipanjad became little known after the Swede contracted a case of COVID-19 just before training camp. Kreider at one point launched an unwelcome emotional defense of his position via a Zoom conference call. He continued to campaign for his position throughout this season.

There was, of course, the scenario in Game 6 of the Pittsburgh series when Zibanegad crashed the pole on a break and checked the iPad upon returning to the seat only to be snatched from his hands by Krider, who threw it to the floor. When asked about it after the match, Kreider answered the question and basically said he didn’t want Zeibanijad to guess himself.

Of course, it was Kreider who beat himself relentlessly throughout his career. He doesn’t want any of that for Zebani Nejad. This is more than just a representation of being a good leader or teammate.

This is a representation of empathy.

“These two men, for sure, have a strong relationship. They love each other very much, and they obviously play together a lot,” Gallant said.

“I think there’s a great bond there.”

The Line 1A/1B format has been with Rangers for the longest time, a return to the last generation of deep races that included equal places in Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. This continues with Kreider and Zibanejad on one unit while Artemi Panarin skates on another.

But Zibani Nejad and Kreider – with Adam Fox at the back – are the club’s attacking engine. When they struggle, as they did on the road at 5 and 5 when they are met by a line check in Carolina and here in this series, their team struggles.

That’s the common burden shared by the two friends, too, throughout this run in which Zipanegad scored 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) three points away from the Swedish-born singles playoff being shared by Henrik Zetterberg, Peter Forsberg and Billy Ecklund; Kreider has tied Adam Greaves’ club record for most goals in a single season at 62 and tied with Rod Gilbert’s record for playoff goals in his 34 career.

After each victory, Zebani Nejad and Kraider were the last Rangers to leave the ice. They do it after hugging. Maybe they weren’t Brady and Gronk. They may not have been Durant and Irving. But they star in the longest-running movie about Friends.

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