Bruins

David Krejci missing from practice, Bruins intend 'to take our time with it'

David Krejci missing from practice, Bruins intend 'to take our time with it'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins center David Krejci was missing from the practice ice on Tuesday and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday after exiting his preseason debut after just two shifts due to a lower-body injury.

It was a first-period collision with Philly defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere that appeared to tweak something on Krejci’s right side, but it was unclear at the time if it was a hip, knee or ankle that was the source of the problem. Bruce Cassidy said following the game that he didn’t believe the injury was serious that the 34-year-old Krejci was removed from the game more for precautionary reasons than anything else.

Cassidy was sounding a bit of the same tune following Krejci’s absence from practice on Tuesday with the aim of making sure the Czech playmaking center ready for the Oct. 3 season opener in Dallas.

“Obviously he didn’t skate today. He’ll be re-evaluated [on Wednesday],” said Cassidy. “I don’t think right now that it’s anything serious, but we’re going to take our time with it for sure. We want to make sure he’s ready to go [for the regular season].”

Given all of that, it certainly wouldn't be surprising if Krejci is shut down for the remaining two preseason games regardless of the injury's severity. 

Swedish free-agent signee Par Lindholm took Krejci’s place during Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and certainly the Bruins have enough depth to withstand a short absence. But what if Krejci is banged up enough that it costs him the rest of the preseason, or even worse part of the regular season?

Well, certainly Charlie Coyle has looked ready, willing and able to bump up to the second-line center and perhaps the drop off wouldn’t be all that noticeable in the short term. But the Krejci injury would have a cascade effect on both the third and fourth line for the Black and Gold.

Sean Kuraly would most likely be elevated to third-line center, which is probably asking a little too much out of the perfect fourth-line center. Either Lindholm or a youngster like Trent Frederic would center the fourth line, and that would undoubtedly impact the kind of quality minutes provided by the fourth line last season.

Clearly, the biggest area of concern with a Krejci absence is on the offensive end where the center is coming off a strong season with 20 goals and 73 points in 81 games. It’s true that the Bruins have four quality centers at the NHL level when everybody is healthy, but that depth gets tested when the Bruins find themselves in need of a top-6 center.

Jack Studnicka has a bright future and arguably Boston’s top forward prospect in the organization, but it’s been plain throughout camp that the 20-year-old needs some development time in the AHL. 

“It’s going to be tough in the middle for Jack. We’d have to move pieces around, which we said we would do [if he was ready]. But I don’t think he’s there yet and that’s fine. With Jack, there is great hockey instincts and great will, but I just think he hasn’t grown into his body yet strength-wise. It is what it is,” said Cassidy. “But we like how he’s playing. Is he ready to unseat anybody? I wouldn’t say so yet.”

The bottom line: The Bruins have to be hoping that it’s nothing serious with Krejci’s lower body as they have been maintaining the past two days.

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NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

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David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

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USA TODAY Sports

David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

The shootout is a problem for the Boston Bruins, and already this season it has cost them three points. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but in a very competitive Atlantic Division that's shaping up to include five playoff-caliber teams, those points are quite valuable.

The Bruins blew a four-goal third-period lead Tuesday night and ultimately lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Charlie Coyle extended the shootout with a third-round goal, but it's Boston's only tally in 11 shootout attempts this season. Only three of the 26 teams that have taken part in at least one shootout have a worst shooting percentage than Boston. 

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy's shootout lineup was a real head-scratcher. Here's a look at the skaters chosen:

Chris Wagner: No goal
Brad Marchand: No goal
Charlie Coyle: Goal
Charlie McAvoy: No goal

The lack of speed and creativity with the puck made Panthers goalie Sam Montembeault's job too easy. Take a look for yourself in the highlights below:

The most curious absence from the above list is David Pastrnak, who leads the league with 16 goals and is tied for second place in scoring with 31 points. Pastrnak is just 3-for-19 in shootouts for his career, but despite this lack of success, he absolutely should be one of the first two shooters in this format, especially when the opposing team has its backup goalie in net, as was the case Wednesday night. The most talented players should be on the ice with the game on the line, and Pastrnak is without question the B's most skilled offensive player. 

Cassidy explained after why Pastrnak wasn't involved in his team's latest shootout loss.

"(Bruins goalie coach) Bob (Essensa) has information on that," Cassidy told reporters. "One thing Bob suggested -- we were going to use Wagner. There was maybe more shooters than dekers against this goalie coming in, but Charlie (Coyle) scored in the shootout shooting. You know, we put Coyle in and recommended shooting. Pasta tends to like to deke, so that’s why we went away from him. He’s been a little bit cold lately in the shootout, so give some other guys an opportunity that we feel can finish. Charlie McAvoy definitely has but didn’t happen."

Pastrnak has shot in two of the three shootouts this season. Jake DeBrusk has taken part in only one. David Krejci didn't shoot in the one game he's played in that ended with a shootout. Patrice Bergeron has zero shootout attempts despite scoring 70 goals over his last 147 games. Bergeron's nine shootout goals are tied for the team lead with Marchand since the beginning of 2012-13. Even defenseman Zdeno Chara deserves a look in the shootout with his powerful slap shot.

Let's be clear: shootouts aren't a new problem for the Bruins.

They actually ranked as the third-best shootout team during the 2011-12 season with 19 goals on 38 attempts, but it's been all downhill since then. The Bruins are dead last in the league with a 20.7 shooting percentage (49-for-237) in shootouts over the last eight seasons, including the current campaign.

We can complain all day about the shootout and say it's a gimmick, and that might be true, but the fact remains it's a very important part of today's NHL. The Bruins' lack of success in the shootout won't hurt them in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it could end up costing them the most desirable seed if the current trend isn't reversed soon. Consistently putting the most skilled offensive players on the ice would be a good way to remedy the situation.

Joe Haggerty: The root causes of this alarming Bruins skid>>>

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