Bruins

Krejci playing like an energized kid surrounded by Bruins youth

Krejci playing like an energized kid surrounded by Bruins youth

BRIGHTON, Mass.  – All of the chatter right after the Bruins opening night win was on the B’s young guns, and rightfully so given the way they all performed in the NHL spotlight for the first time.

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But there were several veteran Bruins who stepped up in the 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, perhaps none more so than playmaking center David Krejci, 31, who had ups and downs last season in a year that ended with him injured in the playoffs. He began this season racking up three assists while playing nearly 22 minutes of ice time.

He was at the center of the transition play that netted Jake DeBrusk his first NHL goal and again it was Krejci dropping things back to Charlie McAvoy for the wind-up blast for his first NHL score as well. It certainly seemed like Krejci was just as energized as the young players around him, and feeling like a kid among the rookie prospects breaking through for Boston.

“I feel good, excited. If you look back a few years ago and now it’s a totally different team. [There are] lots of young guys. So it’s a lot of good, fast players and so it’s fun to play with them,” said Krejci, who geared his summer workout program toward getting lighter and faster while knowing the B’s would be playing at a high pace this season. “The game’s changing. Everyone was working on it in the summer to get ready for a high, high-paced game. That’s what I did. I feel pretty good today. But I’ve got to keep working hard on it all through the season because those guys are pretty fast. I need to keep myself in shape to keep up.”

By midway through the game, Krejci was centering Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk as the best line on the ice, and he was in the midst of winning 17 of 22 face-offs while stepping up with Patrice Bergeron (lower body) out of the lineup. It was a very encouraging sign that Krejci could be in store for a vintage season with talent all around him that can finish off some of the plays that he’s typically setting up on any given night.

“David [Krejci] has always been good on [the draw] and he really dug in tonight. Loved his effort, his commitment, killed penalties, took D-zone draws as a match-up guy, power-play guy, all positives and we needed him to step up,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We lost two key guys that we expected to have, so good for him. Listen, this guy is a competitor, Krech, and he wants that responsibility so that’s a good sign for us.”

The hope is that Bergeron might be back on Monday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche, so some of the burden on Krejci’s shoulders will lighten as the Bruins get a little healthier. But it’s also reassuring to know that Krejci looks primed and ready for a strong, in-his-prime season now that he’s fully healthy and more than a year removed from hip surgery. 
 

Deja vu all over: Gionta again weighing options of hockey future

Deja vu all over: Gionta again weighing options of hockey future

If you asked Brian Gionta how his summer is going, his response might channel baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra--it’s like deja vu all over again.

It was just one year ago that Gionta was without an NHL contract and weighing his future in hockey, but at least then the now-39-year-old could look forward to February’s Winter Olympics, where he was planning on captaining the United States’ men’s hockey team.

Now, however, Gionta, who has played parts of 16 seasons in the NHL, is considering making his mark on the sport in a new way--coaching.

The Buffalo Sabres, Gionta’s team for three seasons from 2014-17, asked the winger to help out with their development camp last month, opening Gionta’s mind to the reality of coaching.

“As I’m sitting here trying to contemplate where to go with my career and whether it’s at the end or not, it was good for me to get my foot in there and see what that was all about,” Gionta told NHL Tonight about the camp.

Gionta did manage to get back to the NHL following the Olympics, signing a pro-rated contract with the Bruins for the season’s final 20 games. Gionta chipped in two goals and seven points, but played just 11 minutes in the playoffs.

“I had a unique year last year with the Olympics and signing with Boston late. Had a ton of fun, was able to be around my family a lot last year,” Gionta added.

Now, as another summer of option-weighing and reality-facing pushes forward, Gionta knows at this point in his career there’s more to think about than just hockey.

“The main focus right now is my family, my kids and trying to figure out what’s best for everyone involved. I’ve had a great run, playing a long time in the NHL, and if this is the end, it’s the end.”