For a long time this season, it was appropriate to say David Krejci was having a sneaky good season.
Now it’s way past that. There's nothing sneaky about the season Krejci's having at age 32, one of his best ever. He scored his 19th goal of the season in Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh and now has 60 points, establishing himself as the Bruins' primary secondary scorer behind Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
Krejci only stands four goals and 13 points away from matching his career highs in those catagories.
“He’s such a talented player and he has been for a long time,” said Brad Marchand of his longtime teammate. “The way he can slow down the game and control the play when he gets the puck -- you know, he’s been a dominant player in this league for a long time. That’s not just going to go away. He’s a great player for our group.”
And he’s doing it despite a season-long rotating group of right wingers. Take the last few games, for instance. Krejci was playing between a guy who has scored 14 goals over the last three seasons (Joakim Nordstrom) and a guy that basically went a whole year between playing in NHL games (Lee Stempniak),
Sure, he’s been riding with Jake DeBrusk -- who's currently injured -- most of the time. But the instability on either side of Krejci is divergently opposite of the consistency and stability that he’s brought to the second line this season. He’s had well over 10 linemates, most of them young players, and that’s a far cry from his best seasons when he enjoyed consistent, big-time wingers like Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson.
“Krejci has always been a solid guy,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He’s got good character, works hard and he’s a good hockey player. Just like anybody, he’d like to form some chemistry [on his line]. Jake has worked out very well for him when he’s healthy, so we’ve tried to keep him there as much as possible while moving him from side-to-side on that line.
“You see the results, they’ve been pretty good. It’s been a challenge to find the other guy [for that line]. I’m not going to lie about that. We’ve had different guys in there. Some have played well and got injured, and some not so well. But the search continues. But [Krejci] is good. Every conversation with him this year has been good. He’s said that when I’m on, you can put whoever you want there. It’s my responsibility to drive the line and he’s accepted that and acknowledged it. We appreciate that.
“Unfortunately he doesn’t have the veteran help that some of the other lines do because that’s the way it’s worked out. But he’s done a terrific job.”
Maybe it’s merely that Krejci is completely healthy for the first time in years, or perhaps it’s about his finally attaining the consistency in his own game when in the past he relied on his wingers to bring out the best in him. Perhaps it’s even Krejci getting a tiny bit rattled by the Bruins chasing after John Tavares last summer, and deciding that he needed to up his own game in order to protect his spot.
Certainly Krejci was energized by the month he spent centering Marchand and Pastrnak when Bergeron was out with a chest injury, but his standout season goes well beyond that few weeks manning the B’s top line.
“It was definitely nice to play with them,” said Krejci. “They make plays out of nowhere sometimes, so that was definitely nice. I just tried to keep up with them. Obviously we had a good run, but we have lots of good players.”
Whatever the case, Krejci said he’s merely going about his business and trying to help the Bruins win games any way that he can.
“I’m not really paying attention to the points, to be honest. I don’t really base my season on the points that I get. I just look back at the season in the summer on what I did well, what I need work on and how we did in the playoffs,” said Krejci. “I don’t just say ‘I have points, so it’s all good.’ That’s not how I measure myself.
“I’m just trying to stay feeling good for as many games as I can, and I know if I do that then the points will come, and the wins will come. The team will be winning, and that’s what I’m focusing on to be ready every game.”
Given Krejci’s track record in the playoffs, the season he’s been having bodes well for the Bruins once they get to the postseason. Now the challenge is to find wingers that can keep up with him and finish off the plays he’s setting up when it matters most against the Eastern Conference’s elite this spring.
Injuries to DeBrusk, Pastrnak and Marcus Johansson are making that a challenge right now, but to his credit it hasn’t slowed down Krejci at all like it might have in years past.
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