WINNIPEG Life without Nathan Horton is proving to be pretty challenging for the Bruins, and its only going to get more difficult now that Rich Peverley is battling a knee injury as well.
The Bruins are 4-5 since Horton went down with a mild concussion on Jan. 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers, and the NHLs highest scoring team has averaged two goals per game in that span as well. Theres probably no better example of a single player missing Hortons power forward finishing presence on the ice than David Krejci, who has yet to score a single point during the month of February.
In total Krejci has one assist and is a minus-7 in nine games without Horton, and has gone from barely passable to liability over the last three weeks of hockey.
I miss Horton. The team misses Horton. Hes one of our best players and we definitely miss him. Im just so used to Horton and I know what he does. We just read off each other so well. Theyre big bodies and I use them right, said Krejci. Once he comes back well get the chemistry going right away because the playoffs are right around the corner.
Obviously its not a good situation when one of your teammates goes down. Now its Horton and Peverley. Weve been here before and weve got to battle through it. Im sure those guys will be back soon.
Krejci has 11 shots in six games this month with zero points and a minus-6, and was busted down to the third line for three games while Claude Julien attempted to get his attention. Now the center will have to raise his game with either Josh Hennessy or Jordan Caron riding shotgun on the right-hand side instead of Horton or Peverley. Claude Julien understands how Krejcis game can change when hes not working comfortably between his two bookend power forwards in Milan Lucic and Horton.
But the Bs coach also thinks now is the time for all Bruins to suck it up and fight through the injuries and midseason doldrums.
Theres a chemistry that gets affected there. Theres no doubt. Theyve been together for two years now. Theyve had great success together, said Julien. But at the same time you have to look at yourself as an individual and say, whether or not you have that guy next to you, I still need to bring my game to the table every night.
Its about analyzing your play versus who youre playing with. Its a challenge, but youve just got to dig a little deeper.
Julien wants that attitude throughout the Bs lineup now that it appears both Horton and Peverley will need to be summarily replaced through a roster-wide team effort.
No matter whos in the lineup weve got to make it happen. We base ourselves on the foundation of doing it as a team and if we respect that foundation then we believe its a strong enough one to win hockey games with players out of the lineup, said Julien.
Krejci thinks hes on the right track after hitting a couple of posts in the shootout win over Montreal, and his track record indicates the streaks will see him get just as hot as hes been cold in February.
Im trying my best. Its a combination of everything together, said Krejci. Youve just got to fight through it. Im sure my teammates will help me out. Im going to get back on track. Ive always done it before.