Bruins

Krejci back and 'hoping to stay healthy the rest of the way' for Bruins

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Krejci back and 'hoping to stay healthy the rest of the way' for Bruins

BRIGHTON -- David Krejci couldn’t help but give a rap to the top of his head in “knock on wood” fashion when asked about the Bruins' sudden good health. The forward group is so healthy, in fact, that Peter Cehlarik was sent down to Providence now that he’s regained full health, and Krejci made his return last weekend after a six-game absence with an upper body injury.

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The 31-year-old Krejci was careful to say that the injury wasn’t related to his back problems earlier this season, but the bottom line with the playmaking Czech center is that he’s missed 18 of the 37 games played by the B’s this season. So Krejci hopes he’s back to stay now after getting a goal and two points in his return last weekend in a blowout win over the Senators, and doing so also breathing some life back into what had been a struggling power play. 

“I feel good, you know? I got some good workouts in when I was injured so I feel really good,” said Krejci, who helped spark the Bruins to three PP goals vs. Ottawa after Boston struggled to a 1-for-14 mark on the man advantage in the previous five games without him. “I feel 100 percent. I feel good. We’ve had some good practices, and it was a good, tough game against Ottawa. They always are against them.

“It looks like guys are pretty healthy. It’s funny when you look at it that almost half of the season is gone and we’re just finally getting our healthy lineup. But at the same time, maybe it’s a good thing we got it all out of the way early in the season. Hopefully we can stay healthy for the rest of the way.”

The other side benefit of so many early injuries, of course, was the ice time and reps it afforded young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Anders Bjork to hit their comfort zones as NHL players. 

Now comes the challenge of a healthy No. 46 building up the chemistry with Ryan Spooner as his new right wing given his recent strong play, and rekindling things with young Jake DeBrusk on the left side as well. The Bruins top line has carried the offense for most of the season and the third line has been very good as of late as a source of secondary scoring, but the time is nearing when Krejci and Co. will be expected to really make the Bruins dangerous and diverse with their top three scoring lines.

It all starts with Krejci being able to stay healthy and in the lineup despite missing an average of 15 games per season over the last four years, and perhaps no longer being quite the same durable, frontline center that he was earlier in his career.  

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Countdown to Bruins training camp: Chris Wagner

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Countdown to Bruins training camp: Chris Wagner

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: Chris Wagner.

One of the offseason aims for the Boston Bruins was bringing a little more experience and a little more physical thump to their fourth line, and the Bruins did that by signing Chris Wagner to a two-year contract on the opening day of free agency. The addition of Wagner adds a hard-hitting, versatile element to the bottom-six up front for the Bruins, and also gives the Bruins yet another local success story as a Walpole, Mass., native coming home to play for his hometown team. The fact that Wagner plays with the blue collar, physical style favored by Bruins fans will make it all the better for him in his home state.   

What Happened Last Year: The 27-year-old Wagner had a strong season with the Anaheim Ducks/New York Islanders going into free agency with seven goals and 16 points in 79 games while finishing among the NHL’s top-5 in registered hits. It was the most games that Wagner has ever played in the NHL and the most production he’s ever posted as well. Based on his track record and how hard he plays the game, it shouldn’t be all that difficult for Wagner to at least play at least season’s level for the next few seasons while under contract with Boston. 

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The big question for the rugged, high-energy Wagner is where the ceiling will be for him over the next few seasons after cementing himself as an NHL player last season. Is he going to be good for something in the neighborhood of five goals/15 points as a third/fourth line forward, or can Wagner hit double-digit goals once he settles into with a role and linemates for the Black and Gold. The other part of that question is whether Wagner can continue with the desperation and maximum energy output that he played with for Anaheim/New York last season. Will the security of a multi-year deal in Boston allow Wagner to relax a little bit and potentially not play with the kind of fire required to hit, play physical and get in the other team’s face? Only time will tell on this one, but it’s tough to get against a player like Wagner that’s had to scrap for everything he’s got.  

In Their Words: “I just wanted to find the best situation, obviously. It seemed that they had success recently and definitely had a chance to make a run for the Stanley Cup. That was huge for me. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the character of the guys in the room with the Bruins. I’ve always wanted to play here and be close to home and be close to my family. My parent, my grandparents, and my brother and all that so it’s just a win-win and a dream come true.” –Chris Wagner, on the process behind signing with his hometown Bruins on the July 1 open of free agency. 

Overall Outlook: The Bruins let Tim Schaller walk away in free agency, so they had to go after another physical, energy player for their fourth line. They found that in Wagner for a similar level of pay at $1.25 million per season, and are once again betting on the player to come into his own during his time with the Black and Gold. It’s a bonus that he’s a local kid just like Schaller, and the hope is that he’ll have the same level of success on and off the ice that Schaller did before parlaying it into a contract with the Vancouver Canucks. If Wagner plays the same way he did last season with Anaheim and New York, both the player and the team should be happy with the level of performance over the next couple of seasons. Bruins fans love players that are willing to take the body and work hard, and that is Chris Wagner several times over.

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Morning Skate: Who ya got in draft of hockey movie characters?

Morning Skate: Who ya got in draft of hockey movie characters?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading as training camp skates a little closer and summer winds down.

*Fun little exercise from Barstool Sports where the NHL has an expansion draft to pick up hockey movie characters. I was, however, a little disappointed to see that the Bruins got somebody from Mystery, Alaska (not one of my fav hockey movies) instead of Ross “The Boss” Rhea, who has Black and Gold written all over him.

*A Q&A with Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn where he talks about anything and everything ahead of an important season for the Stars organization.

*Tim Benz doesn’t want to see anybody else ever wear No. 71 or No. 68 for the Pittsburgh Penguins. I think it’s a safe bet we won’t see that.  

*Pro Hockey Talk says to expect a huge year from Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty no matter where he plays. Count me as a little skeptical on that one.

*So how good is Colton Parayko? Varying NHL talent evaluators offer variations on a “Ummm, pretty good” theme.

*For something completely different: RIP to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who I will forever remember for crushing her scene in the Blues Brothers. She was the real deal.

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