Krejci still one of the big keys for B's postseason success

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Krejci still one of the big keys for B's postseason success

BRIGHTON, Mass – Looking at the numbers, David Krejci has been very good in the first round series against the Maple Leafs with two goals and four points in four postseason games.

But three of those four points came in the two lopsided wins for the Bruins on home ice in Game 1 and Game 2, and it was a bit of a different story up in Toronto. Krejci was a minus player in the Game 3 loss to the Maple Leafs and then saw his ice time drop to a series-low 13:07 in Game 4 as the B’s squeaked out the 3-1 victory over the Leafs with Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup.

Krejci managed just a couple of shots on net in the two road games in Toronto, had a series of turnovers including one that led to a breakaway in the first period of Game 4 and experienced trouble generating second line offense most of the time in the two games. That all changed when he lifted a saucer pass to Jake DeBrusk in the third period of Game 4 that provided the insurance score in Boston’s pivotal victory, but it made for a tough series of games to evaluate No. 46.

MORE BRUINS: Cassidy expects Bergeron to play tonight

“I think he’s a guy that’s been there before, so he can rise up and elevate his game. When he doesn’t sometimes it can be frustrating because you want him to be at that level all the time, which is a big ask. But at the end of the day he’s got speed on his wings now, and we’re just asking him to be mindful of using them,” said Bruce Cassidy. “If they’re going to tighten up and have tight gaps where Toronto wants to be up, then you should play behind them at times and he’s got the wingers to do it.

“He’s a guy that’s been in this league and had success in the playoffs, so you don’t want to tell him how to play the game. But [it’s about] understanding what the other team is doing. You try to educate him on that, so he can make good decisions where he’s using his wingers to their best ability. But at the end of the day he made a big play to put the game away, so kudos to him. How did it start? It started with him blocking a shot.”

The hope obviously is that the Krejci-to-DeBrusk connection at the end of Game 4 might spark that second line a little bit, and allow the trio of Krejci, DeBrusk and Rick Nash to generate more offensive support up front. The Bruins top line has been so good against the Maple Leafs defense that they might need any secondary support in this current first round series, but they’re going to need more from Krejci and Co. moving forward against teams with deeper, stronger defensive units.

“It turned out to be an insurance goal, and a really big one for our team,” said Krejci. “It helps, but it’s a new team where we know they’ve gotten better. We just need to leave everything on the ice. We’ll just go shift-by-shift and focus on that every single time.

“We’ve been getting chances, but the main thing is managing the puck. They’re a quick transition team and if you make mistakes they have lots of speed and lots of skill. So they’ll make it count. You need to make sure you play smart and create offense from playing down low, fore-checks and being really hard on their ‘D’. That’s what we’re trying to do, especially early on tonight.”

Given that Krejci led the playoff field in scoring in each of the two postseasons where the Bruins got to the Cup Final, both the Czech center and his hockey team know how important he is to achieving playoff success. He may not lead all scorers in points this time around, but an effective, dangerous second line for the Bruins is important to the kind of sustained success the Black and Gold are looking for this spring.


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.


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.