Coach John Tortorella has cited the moves preceding the trade deadline in which the Rangers rebuilt the middle of the lineup by adding Mats Zuccarello, Ryane Clowe and Derick Brassard up front as a major factor in the club’s 10-3-1 finishing kick.

But Clowe and Brian Boyle, two important ingredients in the depth department whom Tortorella trusts with important minutes, are sidelined for an indefinite period as the playoffs open tomorrow night in Washington, thus taking a chunk out of that middle of the lineup.

“Injuries are a part of it,” the coach said yesterday. “It puts people in spots where they haven’t been and gives them an excellent opportunity.

“There’s no sense in worrying about it. We have to find people to make big plays in big minutes that help us to win.”

Chris Kreider is one of those people to whom Tortorella indirectly referred. It’s the same Kreider who was dispatched to the AHL following the deadline moves and was recalled following the April 16 injury to Boyle and the same Kreider who generally got fourth-line minutes in his 23 games with the Rangers this season.

And, oh yes, the same Kreider who scored five goals in 18 playoff games last year after joining the club directly out of Boston College and who is tied for fifth on the Rangers in career playoff goals with Marc Staal, trailing just Brad Richards (27), Clowe (18), Ryan Callahan (12), Arron Asham (9) and Taylor Pyatt (8).

“You never want to get a chance because of injuries, but I’m excited to have the opportunity,” Kreider said. “Getting a little more ice time the last couple of games helped me get into the flow.”

Kreider, who has been skating right wing on the third line with Brassard in the middle and Pyatt on the left, is looking forward, not in the rear-view at last year’s playoffs.

“It’s completely independent,” said Kreider, who turned 22 yesterday. “Last year a lot of things fell into place, but that’s over and done with.

“There were nights where I had success and nights where I struggled. My objective is to be dependable and consistent and contribute to the team winning. I’m looking forward to it.”