From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: David Krejci.
Krejci, 32, certainly wasn’t as prolific or productive as he’s been in the past and his second line really dried up offensively in the second round of the playoffs after Rick Nash put together a two-goal game early in the Tampa Bay series. Still, Krejci shepherded a young second line through the regular season with a blossoming Jake DeBrusk on his left side and spent another year as Boston’s 1-2 center punch down the middle of the ice. Krejci isn’t getting any younger and he’s logged some hard miles in his 10-plus-year NHL career, but he’s signed to a long-term deal and not going anywhere.
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What Happened Last Year: Krejci finished with 17 goals and 44 points in 64 games largely centering DeBrusk and Rick Nash and. by all accounts. had a decent season considering he was fighting through injuries and a revolving right-wing situation prior to Nash’s arrival. His minutes were significantly down as he averaged less than 17 per game for the first time since his second NHL season. At this point, Krejci needs wingers that are going to elevate his game rather than the other way around. Still, Krejci can win a key face-off, has one of the best saucer passes in the league and is dynamic on the power play given his passing and facilitating abilities. Krejci may never get back to the 70-point level from his best seasons, but he’s still a valuable piece to what the Bruins are doing on a nightly basis.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: How much longer he can hold onto the No. 2 center gig in Boston before a younger, more explosive player comes in and pushes him down to the third line?. Certainly, it’s no mystery that the Bruins chased after John Tavares in the offseason and that leaves a distinct impression that B’s management wouldn’t be shying away from an upgrade among their top-six centers if the opportunity presented itself. Obviously, players such as Tavares don’t grow on trees and Boston’s own young centers won’t be ready for that kind of duty for at least a couple of years. Still, the pursuit of Tavares was the first clue that the Bruins have a long-term plan about upgrading and getting younger at center sometime in the future. Other than that, it’s about Krejci staying healthy and productive and jelling with his wingers.
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In Their Words: “You always feel like, if you lose a game that you could have done something better.
So, obviously, if I feel like I could have done something better, a lot of guys feel the same way…then we wouldn’t be standing here. We would still be playing. So, hopefully, I guess, you learn from this and, I don’t know. It’s tough, you know? It still hurts, like I said. After the first round, and the first game in Tampa when we won, you start, kind of, having little flashbacks from the years, especially 2011 and 2013, you know, when we went all the way. I felt like this was really – this is it. This could be another one of those years, but it just didn’t work out.” -Krejci, on the shocked feeling last May when the Bruins fell to the Lightning in five games.
Overall Outlook: Krejci again enters this season as the No. 2 center and it will be interesting to see who he ends up with as linemates. The Bruins could opt to drop David Pastrnak down to the second line to form the Czech connection or outfit Krejci with a couple of young linemates in DeBrusk and Danton Heinen/Anders Bjork/Ryan Donato. Either way, they’ll need to consistently generate more offense than they did last season and provide the kind of consistent support to keep defenses from loading up too much against Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. It’s going to be a challenge for Krejci as he enters NHL middle age, but it’s one that the Bruins are going to need No. 46 to meet if they’re going to improve off last season.