Krejci rebounds, plays his game in Bruins win


Krejci rebounds, plays his game in Bruins win

NEWARK David Krejci is a difficult judge when it comes to evaluating his own play, and the playmaking center knew he like the rest of the Bruins team didnt fare very well against the Dallas Stars last weekend.

Sure he was on the scoresheet and he kept a point streak going in defeat, but he was getting bounced around physically and was dominated in the faceoff circle for long stretches of the game. When Krejci isnt winning faceoffs and controlling puck possession, it puts his big-bodied wingers in chase the puck mode and thats not a good thing unless theyre able to throw a few bone-rattling checks in the process.

So Krejcis line didnt have the puck much against the Stars, and that was something he vowed to help change against the Devils before putting up two points in a 6-1 victory over New Jersey at the Prudential Center.

Krejci fed a beautifully feathered cross-ice pass to Nathan Horton for a power-play goal in the first period, and then scored his eighth goal of the season while tipping a Dennis Seidenberg blast in the third period. It pushed Krejcis scoring streak to six straight games with at least one point, and continues a nice offensive push by his forward line over the last few weeks.

We didnt play our hockey game over the last two games in Phoenix and Dallas. We have something good going on here, so we talked about going back toward the way we know how to play, said Krejci. We had a really strong game putting the puck in the net. We were going short and hard with the shifts and that helped us get the big win.

One of the most important areas that Krejci zeroed in on was taking draws and he dominated on the dot. He won all eight of his draws in the first period against an overmatched Adam Henrique or an embattled Patrik Elias, and finished with 12 faceoff wins in 15 draws.

Coach Claude Julien said Krejcis occasional faceoff woes are all about diagnosing what the opponent is doing to gain an edge over him, and then adjusting his faceoff technique on the fly. Opponents will sometimes change things up on Krejci and force him out of his comfort zone until he makes an adjustment. For instance, Steve Ott ate Krejci up in the faceoff circle Saturday night in Dallas, beating him on eight of nine draws.

Probably where David is going to get better in those areas is when he learns to figure out the issue when hes not winning them," said Julien. "Its not so much him as much as reading the other centermen, seeing what theyre doing and trying to neutralize them to get the advantage.

Sometimes he gets discouraged a little bit and starts thinking negatively. When you dont win draws and when you think youre going to lose, then you will lose. Tonight he felt pretty good and I think our whole team was good in the faceoff circle.

Good is 30 wins in 42 faceoffs throughout the game, and that would be considered great for most teams. But not all teams are leading the NHL in faceoff winning percentage like the Bruins are with their unbendable strength down the middle of the ice.

Krejci certainly struggled against Ott and his legendary faceoff skills in his own mind, but the dominating body of work against New Jersey bodes well for future faceoff assignments.

That kind of performance is all the more impressive on the road, and showed the presence of confidence, execution and gritty determination that sometimes goes missing for Krejci during the season.

Sometimes it happens, but last game I couldnt figure it out. Then I tried to cheat and they kicked me out of the faceoff circle, said Krejci. Today I really bore down and I started 9-0 on faceoffs. I felt pretty good about that and finished strong.

Youve got to win the faceoffs and start with the puck. Its way better to start with it and do something rather than go around chasing the puck. Thats not what we want to do.

Morning Skate: Predators kicking it into gear


Morning Skate: Predators kicking it into gear

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while anticpating the turkey leftovers, ready for the taking.
-- NHL referee Wes McCauley is at it again, this time going with a fun no-goal call after having some trouble with his microphone.
-- After getting humbled on Opening Night by the Bruins, the Nashville Predators are starting to get on a roll.

-- NBC Pro Hockey Talk has Kyle Turris excelling for the Predators, and Matt Duchene very much still stuck in neutral for the Ottawa Senators.

-- NHL stars go through their favorite traditions, and what they enjoy is a game that’s full of routine, superstition and tradition.
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ray Ferraro says “it looks rotten” with the Edmonton Oilers as they continue to struggle out of the starting gate.
-- Larry Brooks goes through an all-time ranking of the general managers for the New York Rangers, and it’s an illustrious list.

-- The Vegas Golden Knights could make the playoffs in their very first season, and are absolutely far ahead of expectations for a new expansion team.
-- For something completely different: Wild turkeys are making a major comeback in Massachusetts after being all but extinct here.

Even in their struggles, Bruins have reason(s) to be thankful


Even in their struggles, Bruins have reason(s) to be thankful

Thanksgiving in the United States has become an important holiday in NHL circles because it provides a regular-season marker that allows teams to gauge their playoff viability. Roughly 75 percent of teams in a playoff spot at Turkey Day end up qualifying for the postseason, and teams within a handful of points of a playoff spot retain a pretty decent chance of pushing their way in. 

But Thanksgiving is also a great time for teams like the Bruins to also give thanks, just like everybody else, while they’re passing the turkey, the stuffing and the mashed potatoes.

Given that it’s the time of being thankful ahead of the holiday season, here is this humble hockey writer’s annual list of things that each member of the Bruins has to be thankful for as they sit down to enjoy a tryptophan-induced nap:
David Pastrnak – The 21-year-old is still thankful for the big bucks he signed for this fall . . . $40 million, to be exact. That should keep him in $8 sushi meals at the mall food court for as long as he wants them.
Brad Marchand –Marchand is thankful he finally got bumped up to the top power-play unit over the last couple of seasons, after Claude Julien really dragged his feet putting him there. Eleven power-play goals and 29 power-play points in his last 94 games certainly tell the story.
Patrice Bergeron – Bergeron is happy and thankful that he’s regained his health after missing the start this season, and that he’s been able to adequately handle the 21:01 of ice time he’s averaging per game.
Torey Krug – Krug is thankful he can again eat a nice steak dinner after being forced to have his food come out of a blender for months after fracturing his jaw during the preseason. Of course, that goes for a nice turkey dinner on Thanksgiving as well.
Danton Heinen – The 22-year-old is thankful for second chances after he whiffed during an eight-game audition last season in his first year of pro hockey. He’s making up for it by cementing a role with the Bruins this season now that he’s stronger, faster and a little more confident with the puck.
Charlie McAvoy – The 19-year-old defenseman is thankful he decided to leave BU after his sophomore season, making the very correct deduction that he was way more than ready for the NHL. If he plays his cards right, he may be thankful at the end of the season for a Calder Trophy.
Anders Bjork – The rookie is thankful that the B’s will be playing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic at his alma mater, Notre Dame, next season. He may get to live out a lifelong dream of playing a hockey game on that iconic football field.
Jake DeBrusk – The rookie left winger is thankful that he got to score his first NHL goal in front of his family and his teary-eyed dad, Louie, during a pretty cool opening-night win over the Nashville Predators.
Tim Schaller – The New Hampshire native is thankful to be playing for his hometown hockey team, of course, but he’s more than just a local boy made good. Tim Schaller has been a positive factor for the bottom-6 with his size, speed and intermittent offense.
Zdeno Chara – The captain is thankful that both he and his employer agree that the 40-year-old D-man should continue playing for the Bruins beyond this season. Now it’s just a matter of agreeing on a contract at some point.
David Krejci – The playmaking center is thankful his cranky back has loosened up enough for him to get back in the lineup. Now the Bruins and their fans would be thankful if the points would start to follow now that he’s healthy enough to play.
Riley Nash – The forward is thankful that the B's thought enough of him to protect him in the expansion draft last summer, a show of commitment to a versatile, smart player who does a lot of little things well.
Sean Kuraly – The young center is thankful that he hasn’t yet hurt himself taking the jumping, flying and leaping goal celebrations that he’s quickly becoming known for.
Kevan Miller – The defenseman is thankful he’s back playing his natural right side for the most part after being pushed into left-side duty for much of the first couple of months this season.
Brandon Carlo – The second-year defenseman is thankful to still be on the Bruins, and not used as possible trade collateral in a possible Matt Duchene deal that was discussed quite a bit last year and through the summer.
Jordan Szwarz – The 26-year-old forward is thankful for another NHL opportunity in Boston after he’d gone a couple of years without a sniff during his time in the Arizona Coyotes organization after some early games with them.
Frank Vatrano – The Bruins forward and East Longmeadow native should frankly be happy that he’s still in the NHL given the training camp and early season he had with the Bruins. He’s scored a couple of goals and played well lately, so he has to hope that he’s pushed through the bad times.
Noel Acciari – The Providence College alum is happy to be healthy again after missing a month with a broken finger, and he’s proven that by going right back to the heavy hitting, shot-blocking tough kid that he’s always been.
Ryan Spooner – The speedy playmaker is thankful to be over his torn groin. He needs a strong season in order to once, and for all, show exactly what he could be to the Bruins, or some other team, at the NHL level.
Adam McQuaid – The veteran defenseman is thankful that he wasn’t selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft last summer, and instead continues to be a strong, robust presence in the D-zone when healthy.
David Backes – The 33-year-old forward is thankful to be back skating again after a couple of painful  bouts with diverticulitis that left him in surgery with 10 inches of his colon being removed. I'm still amazed that he returned to practice as quickly as he did, but he is a hockey player after all.
Paul Postma – The  D-man is thankful to be getting a second chance with another organization after spending his entire career with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets.
Matt Beleskey – The winger is thankful that he’s getting a chance to bounce back from last year’s down season, but so far the zero points and minus-7 rating in 13 games leave lots of room for improvement.
Tuukka Rask – The No. 1 goaltender is thankful for all the rest he’s getting in the first half of the season, which should presumably make him healthy, fresh and strong down the stretch this season. That is, if he can actually get back in touch with a game that sees him with a turkey-like .897 save percentage right now.  
Anton Khudobin – The backup netminder is thankful he’s been given a chance to run with things this season as he’s already twice had a chance to start three games in a row after struggling to gain regular playing time last season.
Bruce Cassidy – The coach is thankful for another shot behind an NHL bench 13 years after the first one, and he’s making the most of it with a rag-tag group beset by injuries and youth right now.
Don Sweeney – The general manager is thankful the team is still within a handful of points of a playoff spot after everything that went wrong in the first couple of months.
Cam Neely – The tean president is thankful for the overwhelming talent within their youth movement and the strong, loyal fan base that backs this team no matter what. But it could be a bit of a rough ride ahead, as the B's rank fourth among the big four Boston sports teams, given how good, deep and close to championship-caliber the others are right now.