If it feels like center David Krejci has been a Bruin forever, you are not that far off.
Drafted way back in the 2004 second round (33rd overall), the Czech made the NHL club full-time in 2007-08 and since then, he’s been a major part of a Stanley Cup run in 2011 (where he led the league in postseason scoring) and another trip to the Final in 2013 where he had three more points (26) than he had notched two years earlier.
He is often accused of floating in the regular season and I have lost track of how many times he has been the subject of trade rumors but right about now, Boston (17-10-4) has to be thrilled that he is still wearing Black and Gold with an A (for assistant captain) on his jersey. Krejci (4 goals, 22 assists) will never be mistaken with the incomparable Patrice Bergeron but over the last few games, Krejci has done more than a reasonable impression of Bergeron on Boston’s lethal top line along with left wing Brad Marchand (10 goals, 22 assists) and right wing David Pastrnak (21 goals, 17 assists).
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Following Tuesday’s 4-3 victory vs. Arizona (13-14-12) at TD Garden, the Bruins have won their last three games. In fact, they were able to earn the full six points over the span of four days starting on Saturday night vs. Toronto (21-9-1)-a 6-3 win at the Garden-and followed by a thrilling 2-1 overtime win in Ottawa (13-15-4) the next night. Krejci has been in the middle of their resurgence and in the process, he’s notched some impressive milestones: against the Leafs, he moved into tenth place on the team’s all-time scoring list (595 points) and the Coyotes game was the 800th of his NHL career. He has a four-game point streak (2 goals, 5 assists) that was capped off with three assists vs. Arizona, his sixth multiple-point game of the season.
“Those are the games that David (Krejci) always excels: when he’s allowed to find some time in the space,” noted Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He slows the game down when he’s allowed to see the game quicker than everyone else and he can make those plays when it looks like they’re closing off.”
Krejci has always been looking to set up his teammates rather than shoot the puck himself, as his career statistics show with more than twice as many assists as goals (178 goals, 418 assists). Pastrnak joked that his fellow countryman is “a pass-first player, pass second player, third and then he shoots.” He has a more well-rounded game than he gets credited for though, just look at his faceoff numbers (13-5, 72%) vs. Arizona not to mention the surprisingly effective open ice that he laid on former BU star Clayton Keller that left a confused Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse trying to unsuccessfully challenge Krejci to a fight.
The B’s play Friday (7, NESN) when they kick off another difficult three games in four nights stretch: they are at Pittsburgh (13-10-6), they host Buffalo (18-9-4) on Sunday night (5, NESN) and finally they are in Montreal (15-11-5) for a rare Monday night (7:30, NESN) contest. Bergeron has been out since November 16 with an upper-body injury and while he’s inching ever closer to a return, Cassidy will no doubt be counting on Krejci to continue to deliver results in his elevated role on a team that is currently in position for the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and only two points behind the Sabres for third-place in the Atlantic Division.