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New York Rangers: Neal Pionk, Chris Kreider named to Team USA

The New York Rangers might be out of the playoffs, but two more players will continue to play on the big stage in the offseason. 

Saturday afternoon, the New York Rangers announced that Chris Kreider and Neal Pionk will play for Team USA in the 2018 IIHF World Championships.

Playing in this tournament is common for players whose teams could not make the postseason. This season, Kreider and Pionk will be joining Patrick Kane from the Blackhawks, Johnny Gaudreau from the Flames, and Anders Lee from the New York Islanders in Denmark.

This will not be the first time that both Kreider and Pionk have played for Team USA. Kreider played in the 2011 World Championship while still at Boston College. He also played in the World Juniors Championship in 2010. For Pionk, he helped the USA win the gold medal at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge.

Towards the end of the 2017-18 season, Kreider really stepped his game up after missing most of the season with an injury. Kreider finished the season with 37 points: 16 goals and 21 assists. He scored 15 of those points in 20 games after returning from the injury. As the season went on he looked like a different player, compared to the player he was in years past. Kreider had always planned to play for Team USA, as he said so on breakup day.

Pionk had an impressive rookie campaign for the Rangers. He came into training camp and wowed the coaching staff. Despite not making the roster, he would get his shot once the Rangers announced they would be going younger. The 22-year-old would score 14 points in his 28 game audition. That included a seven-game points scoring streak from March 10 through March 24.

Being around some of the games best talent is nothing but good news for the Rangers and Pionk. You can only hope that he takes his game to the next level, playing against some of the best players the world has to offer.

Other Rangers expected to play in the tournament are Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. The action begins May 4.

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Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.