Bruins

Bruins' David Krejci having one of his best seasons despite instability around him

Bruins' David Krejci having one of his best seasons despite instability around him

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),

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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.

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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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Anders Bjork ready to make most of call to Bruins' lineup

Anders Bjork ready to make most of call to Bruins' lineup

In lieu of David Krejci and Joakim Nordstrom's lingering upper-body injuries, the Boston Bruins' recalled Anders Bjork on Tuesday -- and the young winger is ready to compete. 

Bjork has struggled to crack the B's lineup after suffering season-ending shoulder injuries in back-to-back campaigns, but his talent was never in question. The 23-year-old is confident in both his offensive and defensive game after starting the season with Providence.

"Really exciting, grateful for this opportunity and want to make the most of it," Bjork said, according to bostonbruins.com's Eric Russo. "Working hard trying to improve my game, trying to be a complete player, 200-foot game and obviously trying to work on my offensive game as well and my scoring."

Although he's dealt with multiple injuries, Bjork has played 50 NHL games for the Bruins and he knows what to expect ahead of Tuesday night's matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I feel a lot more confident," Bjork said. "I have some experience and know what to expect. Definitely have a lot more confidence and know how things work, so excited to keep improving."

That confidence began to build during his time with Providence, where he tallied eight points (three goals, five assists) through seven games and led the baby B's to a 4-2-0-1 record. 

"I think coming off injury it was helpful to get some confidence and play a little more at the start of the year," said Bjork. "Just been trying to improve my game down there and that's kind of what my mindset is this year is just improve as much as I can."

While he does have top-six potential, it looks like Bjork will start Tuesday night's game on the third line alongside Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. 

He'll be looking to provide Boston with secondary scoring as the B's have struggled to put goals on the board when Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak aren't on the ice. 

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Tuukka Rask 'grateful' for Bruins career as he approaches 500th game milestone

Tuukka Rask 'grateful' for Bruins career as he approaches 500th game milestone

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Any Bruins/Maple Leafs matchup will have plenty of juice to it given their standing as divisional rivals and based on their recent playoff matchups against each other.

But Tuesday night’s B’s/Leafs rematch at TD Garden in the home-and-home series will also feature Tuukka Rask reaching an important milestone for goaltenders: 500 NHL games played. For goaltenders it represents the same as position players hitting the 1,000 games played mark as both Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron have done to much pomp and circumstance.

It’s appropriate that it comes against a Toronto team that drafted him in the first round and traded him away to Boston in exchange for Andrew Raycroft in one of the worst trades in the distinguished, star-crossed history of the Maple Leafs.

“It was the lockout draft, so I never went to the draft and I never even wore the [Maple Leafs] jersey. They sent me my draft jersey, so it’s still in my lake house as a memory,” said Rask, who is 268-150-59 in his career and holds the Bruins franchise lead in games played (499), wins (268) and save percentage (.922), among other categories for the Original Six team. “It’s a milestone game, so it’s good and fun. I played my first [NHL] game against the Leafs and now it’s a milestone game against them. It’s kind of cool.

“They say it’s like 1,000 games for the [position] players, so it’s a big milestone. You play 500 games as a goalie it’s going to take some years, so it just goes to show you how old I am, I guess. That’s about it. It goes by so quickly. You don’t pay attention to how many total games you’ve played until you’ve reached a milestone and then you start looking back and say, ‘Holy crap — it’s 500 games and 11 years or whatever.’ Time flies. I’m just grateful I’ve been part of this team for so long and that I’m still in it.”

Rask is also off to one of the best starts of his NHL career with a 3-0-1 record along with a 1.72 goals against average and a .946 save percentage, and has settled into an alternating goalie rotation with Jaroslav Halak that’s working well for both netminders. Now he gets to celebrate a career milestone in a big game, and the Bruins hope that turns into a trademark performance from their goaltender that would continue a fast Rask start from a notoriously slow performer out of the gate.

“I think it’s a great achievement. It should his durability and the way he takes care of himself and we are certainly very happy for him,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “He deserves the accomplishment and whatever comes with it. The noticeable part of it is that he’s been playing very good and high-quality hockey for a long time.”

There are still things remaining for Rask to accomplish in a Bruins uniform, most notably getting the Stanley Cup win after falling a little short in 2013 and 2019, but Tuesday night is a good time to salute so many of the good things the netminder has done in being arguably the best regular-season goalie in the Original Six team’s long and storied history.

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