NHL Odds Update: Can Chris Kreider make a “Rocket” Richard run?
We’re nearly two months into the 2021-2022 NHL season, and some familiar names rest at the top of the goal-scoring leaderboard in Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers (20), and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (19).
One skater that’s typically not in the hunt for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy but overachieving this year is New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider. He’s got 16 goals on the campaign, a mere four goals behind Draisaitl with each skater having 61 games in front of them. Yet Draisaitl is the +125 favorite to win the “Rocket” Richard Trophy, while Kreider languishes as the sixth-choice at +2300.
Should bettors be pouncing on Kreider as a live longshot, or is there another skater they should be keying on in this race? Let’s dig in a little further.
Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy 2021/2022
Sat, April 30 2022, 4:30 AM
Aho, Sebastian (1997)
The case for Kreider
Kreider has not done his scoring in bunches, instead scoring one or two goals practically every game.
Through nine games in October, he potted seven goals. Kreider promptly followed that with eight goals over 11 games in November. He also scored once in the Rangers’ 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to begin December.
Kreider has 16 goals off 61 shots, giving him a 26.2% shooting percentage. That’s probably not sustainable considering his career-high is 19.6% from last season, but it’s somewhat understandable when one does a little more homework.
The Boston native has nine goals on the power play this year (second only to Draisaitl, who has 10), scoring the majority of those from right in front of the net off rebound and redirect opportunities. Until opponents figure out how to neutralize Kreider on the power play, the Blueshirts are likely to keep calling his number with the man advantage.
The case against Kreider
The biggest obstacle Kreider may have to overcome is the law of averages.
Kreider is far and away the Rangers’ leader in goals with 16, with Artemi Panarin a distant second at six tallies. “Breadman” is among the New York forwards that figure to pick up momentum as the season progresses, along with Mika Zibanejad, who has only four goals through 21 games.
Eventually Kreider may use his goal-scoring prowess as a decoy as teams start to gameplan against him – much like Panarin (17 assists) has this season – and set up good goal-scoring chances for teammates.
Don’t overlook Ovechkin
Ovechkin could very well win his 10th career Richard Trophy this season, and is available at decent +175 odds.
Though he’s played three more games than Draisaitl and still trails him by a goal, the sheer volume at which “Ovie” shoots (102 shots, pacing the NHL) makes him a serious threat.
Surprisingly, just four of his 19 tallies have come on the power play, a category in which he’s led the league in six of his 16 previous seasons. If he starts picking up steam with the man advantage, the rest of the NHL had better watch out.