Krejci answers critics who say he 'floats' during regular season


Krejci answers critics who say he 'floats' during regular season

WILMINGTON, Mass. David Krejci wanted to make it very clear that hes much more comfortable playing on the ice than he is talking about himself.

Im not a talker guy like somebody else might be, admitted Krejci. I just go out there. I dont make the headlines with things that I say. I just want to go on the ice and show everybody. I know it wont be easy and there will be some bad games, but I just want to leave everything on the ice no matter what happens.

If I screw up on the ice or if the coach yells at me, I just have to get my head ready for the next shift.

The 26-year-old center has always been a soft-spoken, intelligent youngster from the Czech Republic thoroughly willing to speak his mind, and hes always been keenly aware of whats being said, written and rumored about him. So Krejci was understandably proud after scoring a career-high 23 goals last season, but he also weathered more criticism after finishing a career-worst minus-5 in 79 games. The playmaking center was always able to shake off some of the regular season criticisms by coming up big in the postseason, but last year all of that dried up for him after a giant pane of TD plexi-glass crashed on his head following Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

Krejci managed only a single goal and three points in the seven-game series loss to the Caps, and the Czech Republic center appeared alternately frustrated and exasperated throughout the series.

Thats a far cry from the player that put up 22 goals, 73 points and an NHL-best plus-37 during his first full year in the NHL in 2008-09.

It was a difficult season where he was demoted to the third line for the first time in his career, he was regularly criticized by coach Claude Julien as a player that could bring more to the table and it ended altogether too soon for a skater that lives for the playoffs.

But what bothered Krejci most of all when he had the chance to reflect on a season full of frustration?

It was the assertions that he floats or coasts through the regular season at times, and that he plays without the propel level of urgency too often when its not life or death in the postseason. Krejci said he heard those critics loud and clear last year, and his whole summer of work was built around proving them wrong.

Some of it stemmed from an interview last year where No. 46 said the regular season doesnt excite him like the playoffs do, but its always more about what the eye test says while watching Krejci play.

I try not to read too much during the season, but there are times when you watch or read things, said Krejci. Ive learned a lot about myself in the last couple of years. I tried to take those things and turn them into a positive, and I used them as motivation when I was working out this summer.

Sometimes you do interviews and you dont always say the smart things or things that you dont mean to. I remember that my name was being tossed around that I was a floater and that I dont play hard enough in all 82 games during the season . . . that I float during the season and then turn it on during the playoffs.

Some of those reports also included trade rumors of Krejci moving to Anaheim in exchange for Bobby Ryan or Phoenix in a swap for Keith Yandle as Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin could eventually slot into the top two center spots on the Bs depth chart. Those whispers certainly dont appear to be dying down anytime soon with the salary cap expected to go down, and Krejci now commanding more than 5 million per season as the teams highest paid forward (5.25 million) next season.

Obviously Krejci didnt like what he read and heard, and appears to have gained a few pounds of muscle while over the summer months working out in the Czech Republic.

Maybe something like that did happen, but if it did I dont always say the right things or say what I mean. I know what the organization thinks about me, but Ive heard my name tossed around in the newspapers with trade rumors, said Krejci. You read them saying lets trade for this guy because he doesnt float during the regular season just like Krejci does, so those things got me motivated for this year. I worked really hard this summer and hopefully it shows this season on the ice.

The best way for Krejci to silence the critics that havent enjoyed the hot-and-cold performances: consistency. In the months of October and February last season Krejci managed only three points and a minus-12 in 20 games, and essentially disappeared for close to two months of the season.

In the other five months Krejci scored 59 points and was a plus-7 in 59 games last season, and was exactly the kind of player people around the Bruins envisioned when the Czech Republic pivot finally reaches his considerable potential.

So Krejci knows whats been said about him, and knows what he was to do to quiet those accusers. Now its just a matter of going out and doing it once the season finally gets moving.

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON -- Malcolm Subban still believes he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that sort of sheer, brazen self-confidence is admirable -- especially after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden Tuesday -- pretty much all the evidence points to the contrary. Given a shot because of injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, nearly two years after getting pulled from his only other NHL appearance when he gave up three goals on six shots in St. Louis, Subban was taken out Tuesday night after allowing three goals on eight second-period shots.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone afterwards, a testament to his maturity and mental toughness.

“It sucks," said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one . . . but what can you do now, right?

"Obviously I want to be a No. 1 goaltender in the league. I was a [first-round draft choice] for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it . . . I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts, combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft have proven their worth and advanced to the elite level: Matt Murray. Frederik Anderson. Connor Hellebuyck. Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly Tuesday in his first chance to do so.

Hampered by a Bruins team not playing well in front of him, the first goal he allowed was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third was a softie low and to the glove side, a power-play strike authored by Ryan Suter. Instead of hanging in and giving his team a chance to win, Subban helped put the Bruins in a hole they couldn't escape.

While Claude Julien felt the poor performance "could be a combination" of goaltending and overall defensive lapses, he didn't let Subban off the hook.

“There are some goals -- I’m not going to lie -- there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had," said the coach.

But he also wasn't going to place the blame solely at Subban's feet.

"[I’m] not here to talk about a goaltender -- who’s in one of his first few games -- because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him . . .  and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough. Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide-open shots from the slot -- like the Chris Stewart score in the second period 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal -- are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player (Subban) who should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first-round pick in 2012. Anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after his two Bruins appearances. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first-round bust rather than a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer if Rask can’t make a rapid recovery from his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and, to be fair, the three goals allowed to Minnesota weren't all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that he should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie who'd been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, one who's never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.