BRIGHTON, Mass. – All of the chatter right after the Bruins opening night win was on the B’s young guns, and rightfully so given the way they all performed in the NHL spotlight for the first time.
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But there were several veteran Bruins who stepped up in the 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, perhaps none more so than playmaking center David Krejci, 31, who had ups and downs last season in a year that ended with him injured in the playoffs. He began this season racking up three assists while playing nearly 22 minutes of ice time.
He was at the center of the transition play that netted Jake DeBrusk his first NHL goal and again it was Krejci dropping things back to Charlie McAvoy for the wind-up blast for his first NHL score as well. It certainly seemed like Krejci was just as energized as the young players around him, and feeling like a kid among the rookie prospects breaking through for Boston.
“I feel good, excited. If you look back a few years ago and now it’s a totally different team. [There are] lots of young guys. So it’s a lot of good, fast players and so it’s fun to play with them,” said Krejci, who geared his summer workout program toward getting lighter and faster while knowing the B’s would be playing at a high pace this season. “The game’s changing. Everyone was working on it in the summer to get ready for a high, high-paced game. That’s what I did. I feel pretty good today. But I’ve got to keep working hard on it all through the season because those guys are pretty fast. I need to keep myself in shape to keep up.”
By midway through the game, Krejci was centering Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk as the best line on the ice, and he was in the midst of winning 17 of 22 face-offs while stepping up with Patrice Bergeron (lower body) out of the lineup. It was a very encouraging sign that Krejci could be in store for a vintage season with talent all around him that can finish off some of the plays that he’s typically setting up on any given night.
“David [Krejci] has always been good on [the draw] and he really dug in tonight. Loved his effort, his commitment, killed penalties, took D-zone draws as a match-up guy, power-play guy, all positives and we needed him to step up,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We lost two key guys that we expected to have, so good for him. Listen, this guy is a competitor, Krech, and he wants that responsibility so that’s a good sign for us.”
The hope is that Bergeron might be back on Monday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche, so some of the burden on Krejci’s shoulders will lighten as the Bruins get a little healthier. But it’s also reassuring to know that Krejci looks primed and ready for a strong, in-his-prime season now that he’s fully healthy and more than a year removed from hip surgery.