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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