David Krejci has always been a big game player, and he always seems to be lurking in the shadow of Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin during the regular season. Bergerons magnificent two-way play and Seguins explosive offensive skills are easy talking points for the Black and Gold, but Krejci is perhaps the perfect mixture of breathtaking passing ability and responsible center play just a shade under Bergeron.
The Czech Republic center is certainly ready after potting a career-high 23 goals and surpassing the 60-point barrier for the third time in his five seasons with the Black and Gold.
This is a fun time. We all know that weve had a success in past, but this is kind of a new season and a new year, said Krejci. So youve got to start from the beginning. We got to start with a good game tomorrow and go from there.
But Krejci also rises to the postseason occasion in a different way than either Seguin or Bergeron, and has proven in the past just how valuable he is when the games matter. Sure he can be accused of coasting through the dead portions of the regular season, but No. 46 was also the leading goal-scorer for the Bruins during last years Cup run.
People also forget that things fell apart for the Black and Gold two years ago in the collapse to Philly once a Mike Richards open-ice hit knocked Krejci out of the playoffs with a dislocated wrist. Thats the value of Krejci once the playoffs begin in earnest, and thats his value in giving the Bruins three centers with 20-goal potential.
Hes played well lately. Some players have a tough time getting up for 82 games. But one thing I know about David hes never had a tough time getting up for playoffs. I dont think theres a real big key there, said Claude Julien. He led the scoring in the playoffs last year. The year before when he got hurt in Philly he was arguably our best player at the time.
So Krejci and regular season inconsistency certainly is not a concern for us. I think David gets excited about playoffs and hes always been a good player for us and I dont expect that to change.
The only player with a worse mark than Krejcis minus-5 on the season was Shawn Thornton at a minus-7, but that doesnt mean jack with it comes to the center and the postseason.
Krejci becomes one of the best players in the world when the grand Stanley Cup stage is introduced, and that starts tonight against the Washington Caps.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to ESPN's Cristian Moreno. Ventura was 25 years old.
Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners.
Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014.
Ventura is the second major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.
A quick look at the information you need to know about tonight's Patriots-Steelers game:
TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 15-2, Steelers 13- 5
GAME TIME: 6:40 p.m. EST
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson
NATIONAL RADIO NETWORKS: Westwood One
NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts and Ross Tucker
LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)
LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak
ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Steelers lead, 15-14
LAST MEETING: Patriots 27, Steelers 16 on Oct. 23, 2016 at Heinz Field
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-- Bill Belichick is coaching in his NFL-record 11th conference championship game. Tom Brady is playing in his NFL-record 11th conference championship game.
-- The Patriots are 8-4 in AFC Championship Games, including 5-1 in games played in Foxboro and 4-1 at Gillette Stadium.
-- The Patriots are 30-19 in postseason games, including 19-4 at home (3-1 at Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 16-3 at Gillette).
-- The Patriots' 30 postseason victories are tied with the 49ers for fourth-most in NFL history, behind the Cowboys (34), Steelers (34) and Packers (32).
-- The Patriots' .612 winning percentage in postseason games is third-best in NFL history, behind the Ravens (15-8, .652) and Packers (34-21, .618).
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-- If the Patriots win today they will qualify for their ninth Super Bowl, most in NFL history. They are currently tied with the Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers at eight.
-- If the Patriots win today, Robert Kraft will set an NFL record for most conference championships by an owner (8) in the Super Bowl era. He is currently tied with the Denver Broncos' Pat Bowler at seven.
-- If the Patriots win today, Bill Belichick will move into a tie with Bill Walsh for third place on the NFL list of best postseason coaching winning percentage. Belichick (who would be 25-10 with a victory) and Walsh (10-4) would have .714 winning percentage. Belichick is currently in fifth place, two percentage points behind Joe Gibbs (17-7, .708). Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900) is in first place and Tom Flores (8-3. .727) is second.
-- If the Patriots win today, Belichick will advance to his seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, which would be most in NFL history. He is currently tied with Don Shula at six.
-- Tom Brady (8) needs one more playoff game with three or more touchdown passes to tie Joe Montana (9) for most three-plus TD playoff games since the 1970 NFL merger.
-- Stephen Gostkowski (142) needs 11 points to tie Gary Anderson for third place on the NFL's all-time list of kicking points in the postseason. Adam Vinatieri (234) is first and David Akers (175) is second.
-- Julian Edelman (76) needs nine receptions to tie Andre Reed (85) for sixth place on the NFL's all-time list of postseason receptions. Michael Irvin is fifth at 88, and Hines Ward and Wes Welker are tied for third at 88.
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-- REFEREE: Terry McAulay. UMPIRE: Rich Hall. HEAD LINESMAN: Wayne Mackie. LINE JUDGE: Mark Perlman. FIELD JUDGE: Scott Edwards. SIDE JUDGE: Boris Cheek. BACK JUDGE: Tony Steratore. ALTERNATES: John Parry, Mark Steinkerchner, Rich Martinez. REPLAY OFFICIAL: Mike Wimmer. SUPERVISOR: Gary Slaughter.