If the Winter Olympic experience is anything like it was for Bruins center David Krejci four years ago, the B’s organization will be the main beneficiary once he’s done playing for the Czech Republic.
Krejci finished with a pair of goals and three points in the five games played by the Czech Republic before losing to Finland in the quarter-finals in 2010, and he clearly enjoyed the experience of playing in the elite tournament.
“It’s always an honor when you get asked to play for your home country, especially at the Olympics,” said Krejci. “It’s a pretty cool feeling. I’m going to go out there and try to do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
Krejci is on a pace for 19 goals and 72 points this season while centering a line with Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla, and should be on pace for his best season since his breakout NHL campaign back in 2007-08. So the bar is already set pretty high for the playmaking center, but he returned from the Vancouver games four years ago to put up 9 goals and 29 points along with a plus-12 in 31 games (regular season and playoff) before a dislocated wrist knocked him out of the playoff series against Philly.
It was clear his level of play had heightened when he returned from playing for his country, and it’s likely to see the same bump in the final 25 games of this year’s regular season for the Bruins.
Things get started for Krejci and the Czech Republic on Wednesday morning when they face off against Loui Eriksson and Team Sweden.
“I’m a little familiar with what’s going to happen in the village and how everything works,” said Krejci. “But once you get in the games I don’t think there’s any advantage. You’re just trying your best, and you’re not thinking more than everybody else.
“It’s tough. It’s definitely a little weird [playing against NHL teammates]. But like I said, once you’re on the ice you play for one team and Loui [Eriksson] is going to be playing for the other team. That’s just the way it is.”
It will also be a reunion of sorts for Krejci with former Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who will be skating for the Czech Republic after playing this season in the Czech Extraliga. Krejci will also be teammates once again with the ageless Jaromir Jagr after a dominant half-season with the New Jersey Devils. It appears that Krejci won’t be skating on a line with Jagr, however, as that right is reserved for Czech Republic team captain Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens.
Here are the expected line combos and defense pairings courtesy of the good folks over at Pro Hockey Talk:
Jaromir Jagr-Tomas Plekanec-Roman Cervenka
Jakub Voracek-David Krejci-Ondrej Palat
Petr Nedved-Patrik Elias-Martin Erat
Michael Frolik-Jiri Novotny-Milan Michalek
Extras: Ales Hemsky, Martin Hanzal
Marek Zidlicky-Zbynek Michalek
Michal Rozsival-Tomas Kaberle
Radko Gudas-Ladislav Smid
Lukas Krajicek-Michal Barinka