Bruins

Krejci answers critics who say he 'floats' during regular season

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Krejci answers critics who say he 'floats' during regular season

WILMINGTON, Mass. David Krejci wanted to make it very clear that hes much more comfortable playing on the ice than he is talking about himself.

Im not a talker guy like somebody else might be, admitted Krejci. I just go out there. I dont make the headlines with things that I say. I just want to go on the ice and show everybody. I know it wont be easy and there will be some bad games, but I just want to leave everything on the ice no matter what happens.

If I screw up on the ice or if the coach yells at me, I just have to get my head ready for the next shift.

The 26-year-old center has always been a soft-spoken, intelligent youngster from the Czech Republic thoroughly willing to speak his mind, and hes always been keenly aware of whats being said, written and rumored about him. So Krejci was understandably proud after scoring a career-high 23 goals last season, but he also weathered more criticism after finishing a career-worst minus-5 in 79 games. The playmaking center was always able to shake off some of the regular season criticisms by coming up big in the postseason, but last year all of that dried up for him after a giant pane of TD plexi-glass crashed on his head following Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

Krejci managed only a single goal and three points in the seven-game series loss to the Caps, and the Czech Republic center appeared alternately frustrated and exasperated throughout the series.

Thats a far cry from the player that put up 22 goals, 73 points and an NHL-best plus-37 during his first full year in the NHL in 2008-09.

It was a difficult season where he was demoted to the third line for the first time in his career, he was regularly criticized by coach Claude Julien as a player that could bring more to the table and it ended altogether too soon for a skater that lives for the playoffs.

But what bothered Krejci most of all when he had the chance to reflect on a season full of frustration?

It was the assertions that he floats or coasts through the regular season at times, and that he plays without the propel level of urgency too often when its not life or death in the postseason. Krejci said he heard those critics loud and clear last year, and his whole summer of work was built around proving them wrong.

Some of it stemmed from an interview last year where No. 46 said the regular season doesnt excite him like the playoffs do, but its always more about what the eye test says while watching Krejci play.

I try not to read too much during the season, but there are times when you watch or read things, said Krejci. Ive learned a lot about myself in the last couple of years. I tried to take those things and turn them into a positive, and I used them as motivation when I was working out this summer.

Sometimes you do interviews and you dont always say the smart things or things that you dont mean to. I remember that my name was being tossed around that I was a floater and that I dont play hard enough in all 82 games during the season . . . that I float during the season and then turn it on during the playoffs.

Some of those reports also included trade rumors of Krejci moving to Anaheim in exchange for Bobby Ryan or Phoenix in a swap for Keith Yandle as Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin could eventually slot into the top two center spots on the Bs depth chart. Those whispers certainly dont appear to be dying down anytime soon with the salary cap expected to go down, and Krejci now commanding more than 5 million per season as the teams highest paid forward (5.25 million) next season.

Obviously Krejci didnt like what he read and heard, and appears to have gained a few pounds of muscle while over the summer months working out in the Czech Republic.

Maybe something like that did happen, but if it did I dont always say the right things or say what I mean. I know what the organization thinks about me, but Ive heard my name tossed around in the newspapers with trade rumors, said Krejci. You read them saying lets trade for this guy because he doesnt float during the regular season just like Krejci does, so those things got me motivated for this year. I worked really hard this summer and hopefully it shows this season on the ice.

The best way for Krejci to silence the critics that havent enjoyed the hot-and-cold performances: consistency. In the months of October and February last season Krejci managed only three points and a minus-12 in 20 games, and essentially disappeared for close to two months of the season.

In the other five months Krejci scored 59 points and was a plus-7 in 59 games last season, and was exactly the kind of player people around the Bruins envisioned when the Czech Republic pivot finally reaches his considerable potential.

So Krejci knows whats been said about him, and knows what he was to do to quiet those accusers. Now its just a matter of going out and doing it once the season finally gets moving.

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.