It was 368 days ago when Chris Kreider made his career debut as a Ranger.

In Thursday night’s 6-1 win over the Panthers at the Garden, he got back to the Blueshirts after his most recent six-game stint in the minors with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale. Yet it was not like the halcyon days of last year’s playoffs, when Kreider burst onto the scene out of Boston College for an eye-opening 18-game run that included five goals.

Instead, coach John Tortorella buried Kreider on the fourth line with Darroll Powe and Arron Asham, playing the 21-year-old rookie a total of 7:02, with one shift in the second period and three in the third.

The main reason Kreider was recalled in the first place was the right knee injury to Brian Boyle, sustained in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia, and keeping him out last night. Tortorella said Boyle would be out for at least tonight’s game against the Sabres in Buffalo and the Devils game Sunday afternoon at the Garden.

“There were a number of players we talked about,” Tortorella said yesterday afternoon concerning the decision to bring Kreider up. “The thing that we settled on was his speed. We want to try and play with more pace, so that’s who we go with.

“I’m still not crazy about bringing the kid here,” the coach continued. “But we felt with his assets, his speed especially, that’s who we’d go with.”