Bruins

Krejci, his back still an issue, will miss Monday's Bruins game in Columbus

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Krejci, his back still an issue, will miss Monday's Bruins game in Columbus

David Krejci will miss his fourth straight game Monday night when the Bruins play the Blue Jackets in Columbus Blue Jackets, and it appears the back issue that's sidelined him is becoming a problem.

Krejci was among a number of Bruins players who never got on the ice Sunday morning for an optional practice, and it remains to be seen exactly when he’ll be able to return. He hasn’t played in 10 days, since suffering a cross-check to the back that caused him to spasm up in Boston’s Oct. 19 win over the Vancouver Canucks. He originally was listed as day-to-day, but coach Bruce Cassidy changed that to "week-to-week" when Krejci was unable to play after going through the beginnings of pregame warmups when the B's played Buffalo a week ago Saturday.

David Backes has subbed in at center between David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk with some pretty good results, but there’s no question the B's miss Krejci's playmaking abilities. They've scored only seven goals in three games without him, and are just 1-for-7 on the power play during that span.

The bigger issue, however, is the aging center duo of Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. Both are still very effective when healthy and have been warriors over the course of their respective careers in Boston, but they’re also both on the wrong side of 30 with a lot of hard miles logged on their bodies. The Bruins have had both Bergeron and Krejci healthy and in the lineup for exactly one game this season -- the win over the Canucks where Krejci first suffered the back injury -- and that’s likely happen more and more as age begins to chip away at their respective games.

Talking points: Jake DeBrusk graduates from rookie to clutch performer

Talking points: Jake DeBrusk graduates from rookie to clutch performer

GOLD STAR: The Bruins needed somebody to step up aside from their top trio of forwards, and Jake DeBrusk did exactly that in a huge Game 7 moment for the Black and Gold. DeBrusk scored two goals in the do-or-die playoff game including a power play goal to open up the scoring, and the game-winning goal in the third period where he powered to the net through Jake Gardiner before sliding a shot through Frederik Andersen. DeBrusk finished with five goals and seven points in the seven game series, had five shots on net in Wednesday night’s decisive Game 7 and was the best player on the ice for either team in the series’ most important game. DeBrusk may still be a rookie in name, but he’s graduated to formidable big game player in these playoffs. 

BLACK EYE: Jake Gardiner finished with a minus-5 for the game, and was brutally bad for the Maple Leafs. This was always the glaring weakness for the Leafs on their back end and it finally showed in Game 7 with so many other moving parts flying around. Gardiner didn’t block any shots and had a couple of giveaways in his 24:01 of ice time, and his play on the game-winning goal for DeBrusk was the perfect example of his rough night. DeBrusk got Gardiner all turned around as he attacked on the right wing with speed, and powered his way to the net while releasing a shot as the Leafs D-man couldn’t eliminate him from the play. At the moment of truth, it was a young Bruins forward overpowering a veteran Leafs D-man for the game-winner, and it’s exactly how the series played out in the moments where the Bruins had the upper hand. 

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TURNING POINT: Clearly it was coming out for the third period where the Bruins have been big winners all season. The Bruins scored just 1:10 into the third period to tie up the game on a Torey Krug bomb from the point, and they didn’t allow a single shot on net in the first 10 minutes of the third period while protecting a goalie with a fragile level of confidence in his own game. Clearly the Bruins decided to put the clamps down at the right time, and eventually Jake DeBrusk busted through for the game-winner while powering through the Leafs defense for his second score of the game. In all the Bruins outshot the Leafs 11-8 in the third period, but truly controlled the final 20 minutes of play while scoring four unanswered goals against a stunned Leafs team. For the second straight Game 7 between these two teams, the third period was a house of horrors for Toronto. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron is the kind of player that lives for the Game 7 moments, and he did exactly that once again for the Bruins. It was Bergeron that finished with a goal and three points, a plus-2 in 19:36 of ice time and won 14-of-22 face-offs while playing strong through injury. Bergeron scored his first goal of the series in the big Game 7 moment, and he finished with four shot attempts, one hit, two takeaways and a blocked shot in his night’s work while filling up the box score like he always does. Even better all three members of the Bruins top line scored in the game after being held down in each of the three losses in the series, showing they were ready to show up and play big at the biggest moment in a Game 7. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 – the number of points for Torey Krug at the end of the seven game series after scoring a big game-tying third period goal in Game 7. The nine points leads the field of all NHL defensemen after the first round of the playoffs.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Toronto did a good job with them. They got frustrated a few times, but they stuck with the program. Even the games they’ve been quiet in terms of stats on the sheet, they’ve been generating. So, that was asked this morning: Are they getting frustrated? I think there’s always a certain level of that when you’re used to getting production, and they got it back tonight.” –Bruce Cassidy, on his top line’s ability to stick with the program, and come through in Game 7, even as they were getting frustrated later in the series.

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Breaking down the Bruins' huge third period in Game 7

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Breaking down the Bruins' huge third period in Game 7

3:00 - Mike Felger and Tony Amonte break down the Bruins stepping up in the 3rd period as they get the big Game 7 win against the Leafs. Bruins advance to face the Lightning in the 2nd round. 

7:52 - NBC Sports NFL draft expert Josh Norris joins Mike Giardi on Early Edition to give us his predictions for the Patriots 1st round picks and what quarterback might fit best in New England.

12:34 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Felger, and Trenni Kusnierek discuss the impact Marcus Smart made in Game 5 and debate if Smart or Terry Rozier is more important to the Celtics.