Celtics

Krejci missing security blanket in Horton

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Krejci missing security blanket in Horton

WINNIPEG Life without Nathan Horton is proving to be pretty challenging for the Bruins, and its only going to get more difficult now that Rich Peverley is battling a knee injury as well.

The Bruins are 4-5 since Horton went down with a mild concussion on Jan. 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers, and the NHLs highest scoring team has averaged two goals per game in that span as well. Theres probably no better example of a single player missing Hortons power forward finishing presence on the ice than David Krejci, who has yet to score a single point during the month of February.

In total Krejci has one assist and is a minus-7 in nine games without Horton, and has gone from barely passable to liability over the last three weeks of hockey.

I miss Horton. The team misses Horton. Hes one of our best players and we definitely miss him. Im just so used to Horton and I know what he does. We just read off each other so well. Theyre big bodies and I use them right, said Krejci. Once he comes back well get the chemistry going right away because the playoffs are right around the corner.

Obviously its not a good situation when one of your teammates goes down. Now its Horton and Peverley. Weve been here before and weve got to battle through it. Im sure those guys will be back soon.

Krejci has 11 shots in six games this month with zero points and a minus-6, and was busted down to the third line for three games while Claude Julien attempted to get his attention. Now the center will have to raise his game with either Josh Hennessy or Jordan Caron riding shotgun on the right-hand side instead of Horton or Peverley. Claude Julien understands how Krejcis game can change when hes not working comfortably between his two bookend power forwards in Milan Lucic and Horton.

But the Bs coach also thinks now is the time for all Bruins to suck it up and fight through the injuries and midseason doldrums.

Theres a chemistry that gets affected there. Theres no doubt. Theyve been together for two years now. Theyve had great success together, said Julien. But at the same time you have to look at yourself as an individual and say, whether or not you have that guy next to you, I still need to bring my game to the table every night.

Its about analyzing your play versus who youre playing with. Its a challenge, but youve just got to dig a little deeper.

Julien wants that attitude throughout the Bs lineup now that it appears both Horton and Peverley will need to be summarily replaced through a roster-wide team effort.

No matter whos in the lineup weve got to make it happen. We base ourselves on the foundation of doing it as a team and if we respect that foundation then we believe its a strong enough one to win hockey games with players out of the lineup, said Julien.

Krejci thinks hes on the right track after hitting a couple of posts in the shootout win over Montreal, and his track record indicates the streaks will see him get just as hot as hes been cold in February.

Im trying my best. Its a combination of everything together, said Krejci. Youve just got to fight through it. Im sure my teammates will help me out. Im going to get back on track. Ive always done it before.

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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