Early chemistry between Rich Nash and David Krejci is undeniable

Early chemistry between Rich Nash and David Krejci is undeniable

BOSTON – Clearly the Bruins viewed the trade for Rick Nash as a significant upgrade on the right wing among their top-6 forwards.

That’s why you give up a smorgasbord of players, prospects and pucks for a player with no guarantees he’ll be signed on for duty beyond the next couple of months.
Nash has been as advertised and then some as a big, skilled and fast-moving 6-foot-4 power forward that’s added size, strength and big time production with three points in three games, and an active 15 shots on net since suiting up and Black and Gold. But just as importantly, the power right winger has brought life and electricity back to David Krejci’s game as well alongside him, and never was that more evident than in the Czech center’s hat trick during Boston’s 8-4 barn-burner on Thursday night over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.

Krejci has three goals and four points and a plus-2 in the three games since finding instant chemistry with Nash, and Jake DeBrusk on the other wing has three points and a plus-5 rating over that span as well. Compare that with the modest three goals and five points that Krejci had over the previous 14 games prior to the deadline, and it’s clear that once again a big-bodied skilled winger has brought out the best in Boston’s playmaking pivot.

To say it’s been instant chemistry between Krejci and Nash would be an understatement, and it really begins to build the excitement level of what they could do when everybody is healthy and making that final Bruins push for, and then into, the playoffs.

“[Nash] is a great player. I’m obviously happy to be on his line. We had a good game so hopefully we can build on that, and be even better next game,” said Krejci. “He’s good. He took the puck tonight, he’s got a big body and can skate really well so trying to get a feel of what he can do and try to find that spot, and get an idea of where he puts the puck. So it’s getting better. He’s a world class player and he’s shown that over the last couple of games.”

Just as he enjoyed his greatest success with power forward bookends like Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla beside him, Krejci is doing very much the same thing with a guy that’s got over 400 goals and 800 points in his career.

“David had some of his best years here playing with Looch [Milan Lucic] and [Nathan] Horton and [Jarome] Iginla, so he is used to having big, heavy guys who will get to the net,” said Bruce Cassidy. “[It’s] no disrespect to Ryan Spooner because we asked him to do something out of his comfort zone. I thought he did a good job. But, we said this before – he wasn’t going to grow six inches here.

“Jake is doing a good job with that. He has a lot of Nash’s attributes – not as big a man, obviously, but he does like to get to the net, and he has good foot speed. [Krejci] now got two wingers that have some similar traits that he seems to excel with. Nash is a good defensive player, so he will help whoever centerman he is with, kill some plays in the zone because of his reach and his hockey IQ. It’s been a good marriage so far.”

Nash and Krejci really only showed the chemistry on one of the three goals on the night for No. 46 with Nash bombing down the right wing, a backhanded saucer pass to the net that Krejci slammed through Casey DeSmith on the way to the Bruins first goal of the game. It was a big response score from the Black and Gold 1:45 into the first period after Pittsburgh had scored early, and it sent a message to the Penguins that the Bruins weren’t planning on rolling over and dying with Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup.

Nash and Krejci both did the rest of their offensive damage on the power play on Thursday night in a big revival effort for the man advantage, and both players were crashing the front of the net. That wasn’t a reflection on the way that duo played 5-on-5 in the game, however, as they continued to show all kinds of possibilities.

Sometimes it can take weeks (or not ever) for players to build chemistry together on a line, and there are some players that will never gel together no matter how long they’ve played beside each other. Then there are players like Krejci and Nash that were seemingly built for each other, and innately show that ability to complement each other from the very first moments they’re skating as linemates. Time will tell how good they can be, and whether Nash is a longtime partner for Krejci or simply another in a long line of power forward-types that enjoyed success with him.

But it’s clear that the Bruins second line is much more dynamic and dangerous now than they were prior to the deadline, and that’s all about Chemistry 101 between Krejci and Nash that couldn’t be better as the Bruins continue rounding into playoff shape.   

Bruins not thrilled with low-scoring Game 5 loss: 'We've just got to be better'

Bruins not thrilled with low-scoring Game 5 loss: 'We've just got to be better'

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t seem terribly interested in breaking down what happened after the loss in Game 5 had settled in on Friday night.

The Bruins dropped a 2-1 decision at home to Toronto Maple Leafs where both teams were scoreless headed into the final period, and where the Bruins weren’t able to score on the power-play despite getting a 3-to-1 advantage in PP chances in the game. Instead, it was Leafs youngsters Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen that scored the goals to moved Toronto a win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years.

“We’ve had better games,” admitted Brad Marchand. “I don’t think either team was great, but it was the difference of one play. Game is over now, worry about the next one.”

They also managed almost as many shots on net in a desperate third period (14) as they did in the first two periods combined (15), so it wasn’t a big display of offense or of energy from a bottom-six forward group that Bruce Cassidy shuffled around because they weren’t giving him enough.

Certainly, those expecting an all-hands-on-deck physical effort like the energetic Game 2 win at home were left disappointed by something that again didn’t quite rise to playoff-level intensity.

“I didn’t think that we had energy in the bottom of our lineup. They don’t generally play their fourth line a lot, so if our fourth line and the guys we use in that roll aren’t going together in sync then it works against us. That’s the way I saw it,” said Bruce Cassidy “We had a couple of shifts that I thought they got outplayed to a certain extent. When I used them individually, in pieces, with different lines I thought we had a better result so we kind of went three lines and then added a player here or there.

“I thought that might work out better for us. Obviously, in the end, we lost the game, so, who knows? Clearly, I don’t know if the difference in the game was the minutes that were distributed because they are generally energy anyway, and we lacked a bit of that early on.”

The best thing the B’s had going for them was that it was scoreless after two periods, and they still had a legit chance to win going into the final frame. It didn’t work out that way, of course, when Auston Matthews rifled home the one-timer to finally snap the spell in the third, and again, Boston’s top trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were held off the scoreboard in a B’s playoff loss.

“We’ve just got to be better. You know, we’re going to have our back against the wall, so we have to learn from this game and be better, and honestly play desperate hockey and get a W no matter what it takes,” said David Krejci. “We were feeling really good. We’ve been in this situation before and we’ve handled it pretty well in the past, so we knew we could do it. But it just didn’t go our way. We have to do better next game.”

Particularly discouraging for the Bruins after the loss: The Bruins are 3-20 in playoff series where they fall behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven series format. In fact, they haven’t won in this situation since coming back against the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup back in 2011. 

It sure doesn’t feel like the Bruins are capable of that kind of magic after a merely okay effort in a Game 5 loss, but the B’s will get one more chance to prove themselves before postseason elimination lurks in the background.

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Bruce Cassidy, Tuukka Rask address refs' non-goalie interference call on controversial Maple Leafs goal

Bruce Cassidy, Tuukka Rask address refs' non-goalie interference call on controversial Maple Leafs goal

The Maple Leafs' go-ahead goal in their Game 5 win over the Bruins was a controversial one.

The game was scoreless until Auston Matthews got the Leafs on the board in the third period with some help from teammate Zach Hyman, who appeared to interfere with Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. The B's challenged for goalie interference, but to no avail.

Boston ended up losing by a score of 2-1 and now are on the brink of elimination with the series at 3-2 in favor of Toronto.

After the game, Rask and B's head coach Bruce Cassidy made it clear that they believed Hyman made contact with Rask, preventing him from getting a chance to make the save. Hear what they had to say below:

The Bruins will look to stave off elimination on Sunday and force a Game 7.

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