WILMINGTON -- David Krejci was awarded an “A” on his sweater as an alternate captain prior to the start of the season as a reflection on the way he plays his best in the biggest moments. But it was also a challenge of sorts to help lead the way for the Boston Bruins during times of trouble.
The Czech center has done exactly that while posting 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in nine games during the month of December as he’s watched many of his teammates go down with injuries.
“Even though you have some injuries, you still got to focus on your game and prepare on your own game,” said Krejci. “Obviously in certain situations you’ll need to step up and the team needs you. But other than that you’ve got to go in the game and just try to play your game.
“It’s funny. Sometimes you’ve got a line, and it clicks right away. But I feel like the right way is to start ‘okay’, and keep building the chemistry. I think that’s what we’ve been doing. We started okay and we’ve been playing better and better every game.”
He picked up two points in Boston’s win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, and has watched as his forward line has picked things up this month after a slow November. He’s led the way for linemates Jarome Iginla (3 goals, 4 assists) and Milan Lucic (1 goal, four assists), who have had decent months of December next to Krejci as he's stepped up his pace and production.
Contrast that with November when Krejci has just two goals and eight points in 15 games, and it’s been a hot month after a cold one. Krejci's rough November was perhaps brought on by Brandon Dubinsky smashing Krejci's head into the boards back on Nov. 14; he went scoreless in the next four games, and had his longest pointless stretch of the season.
As a line, though, Krejci, Lucic and Iginla produced offense over the last 10 days to two weeks as injuries have gnawed away at the Bruins offense. Krejci has 31 points in 36 games as the team’s leading point man, and is on pace to top 70 points for the regular season for the Black and Gold.
Combine Krejci’s playmaking with the bookend power forwards on either side of him, and that’s a headache for any NHL goaltender when they're playing well.
“They have a lot of big bodies in front, they have [Milan] Lucic and [Jarome] Iginla, big guys and I think their defense are pretty skilled with their shots,” said Buffalo netminder Jhonas Enroth, who gave up three goals in Saturday night’s loss. “So I had to fight a lot to see the puck. A couple of times it hit me, unfortunately that one time on Lucic it snuck by me.”
And who fed Lucic on his goal-scoring shot from the slot? That would have been Krejci, who recognized the open seam in the Buffalo defense and got it to Lucic roaming free in the slot. When the Krejci line is going well as they have been over the last few weeks, that’s pretty close to an automatic goal for the Black and Gold.