Bruins

Krejci breaks slump with three-point game

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Krejci breaks slump with three-point game

TORONTO Though the stats werent necessarily always backing it up, Claude Julien spied plenty of evidence earlier this week that David Krejci was working his way through early season difficulties.

The Czech Republic center was rewarded for the effort hes been putting in by finally piling up some production in the form of a three-point effort in the Bruins 7-0 thrashing of the Leafs at the Air Canada Center.

It was his biggest offensive eruption in a modest season, and Krejci snapped a six-game pointless streak with a right place at the right time score in the second period. The Krejci goal finished off a long stretch of pressure from the Bs erstwhile scoring unit, and handed the Bs a gaudy five-goal lead they wouldnt relinquish.

Krejcis night finished up with a pair of assists on both of Milan Lucics goals, and more than tripled his season-scoring output in the points department he values pretty highly. Krejci knows its his job to generate offense and points, and he finally did that for the first time in a season thats seen offensive struggles for the Bs.

I didnt think he played that badly against Ottawa and now it looks like things are paying off for them, said Julien. We just need Krejci and Horton to keep getting better because theyre an important part of the hockey club.

Krejcis helpers arrived on both Lucic goals in the win over the Leafs, and the center was heartened after the game. He was starting to see some results after putting hard work into turning things around over the last few games, and getting away from the coasting habit that can creep into his game.

Krejci finished with nearly 16 minutes of ice time and clocked out after winning 5-of-10 face-offs -- and succeeding in twice engineering quick follow-up scores for the Bruins on the heels of Leafs goals that really demoralized Toronto.

I got some momentum on my side and it was a good night. Obviously Im going to try and make that a turning point, said Krejci talking the game in terms of his season. My game is just going to go up.

Krejci now has four points and a minus-3 in nine games this season. He looks like hes slowly climbing out of the malaise that tainted his game through the first month. The young center simply needed a place to create and enjoy a little positive feedback on the ice, and all of that was present in the feel-good win over the Leafs.

There is still room for improvement, however.

Krejci looked a little lazy on the first power play when a telegraphed pass from the half-wall turned into a Toronto rush down the other end of the ice. He also couldnt come close to cashing in on a 3-on-2 advantage in the third period when the crafty center had both Lucic and Nathan Horton bearing down hard on the wings.

Ive felt pretty good the last couple of games, but Im a guy thats supposed to put the puck in the net or make it happen. Tonight it happened and I feel good about that, said Krejci, who scored on his only shot of the night. In the last game Milan had a goal and I felt like we had so many chances against Ottawa. But the luck wasnt on our side. We finally got the luck on our side and got a few goals.

Given the difficult puck luck that came the Bs way in the first month, a few more goals for Krejci and Co. should be in the cards as long as they keep working and competing for pucks.

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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Morning Skate: Not all smooth sailing for top picks

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Morning Skate: Not all smooth sailing for top picks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the return of Adolfo to Toucher and Rich this morning.

*Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid have received plenty of acclaim over the past couple of years as talented, young stars in the league, but Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien details how things haven’t gone ideally for either of those youngsters, or their teams, this season. Clearly, it’s not at this level yet, but just think about the hype behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin when they were drafted 1-2 back in 2010, and what they have, and haven’t, been able to accomplish in the league since that time.

*Outstanding rookie Brock Boeser credits a conversation with Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green for helping spark his game this season.

*Good video piece on the near miss of Wayne Gretzky almost playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs after dominating them in the playoffs.  

*Salivating for some hockey trades? The 10 potential NHL trade deadline targets around the league as we wait for players to become available for trade later in the season.  

*Hockeybuzz is asking what the NHL, and more specifically the Hockey Hall of Fame, has against goaltenders?

*For something completely different: A great piece from Drew Bledsoe on the tragic passing of former Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn, and how his death came just as he seemed to be putting all the pieces of his life together.