Struggling Krejci needs the puck more


Struggling Krejci needs the puck more

WILMINGTON David Krejci is a pretty bright young hockey player.

He certainly knows when hes playing well and putting out good, efficient, productive performances.

Krejci also knows when there is something amiss in his game that needs to be corrected.

Lets just say Krejci upped expectations for himself when he scored a team-leading 12 goals during the Stanley Cup run last spring, and those expectations havent been close to met in the early going this year. Theres also a little more of the latter than the former when it comes to where the center is at with his game right now.

I feel like I havent done much this year yet, so I have to start things up, admitted Krejci about a frustrating first month of the season.

Krejci just as much as for the rest of the Bruins hasnt been his best. That was essentially hammered home when Claude Julien busted up his longtime line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, and its plainly obvious in Krejcis output this year: a single point in five games along with a minus-5 to start this year.For more than simple stats just watch the first few shifts of the San Jose Sharks loss from Saturday where Krejci sleepily turned the puck over twice -- including a giveaway in the neutral zone that turned into the Sharks' first goal of the game.

The minus-5 is the worst mark on the team, and a stunning number for a player in Krejci that led the entire NHL with a plus-37 three years ago. On the positive tip Krejci has some pretty good company in the early season plusminus doghouse: Daniel Alfredsson, P.K. Subban, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal and Kevin Bieksa are all minus-5 or worse to start their seasons as well.

A core injury that caused him to miss three games certainly didnt help matters either.

But Krejci said there are no physical excuses for his substandard play early in the season, and said hes 100 percent. In his mind its about demanding the puck, owning the puck and then making plays all over the ice with the puck in his possession once hes become a little more assertive out on the ice.

So dont be surprised if you see Krejci tapping his stick to the ice looking for the puck against Montreal because thats exactly what he wants to get him into his happy place.

Thats my game. I want the puck. I feel really comfortable with my skating right now, so I want the puck in the neutral zone or in our defensive zone, said Krejci. Then I can take it into the offensive zone and make something happen. Thats what Ive got to do. Ive got to want the puck more and Ive got to talk to the D about giving me the puck more.

I need to make something happen, and if I dont then Im not happy because I didnt do my job. Were all going to have to show it tomorrow. We know its not going to be easy, but once we have a chance we have to bury it. There are no excuses anymore. Weve got to start putting the puck in the net.

There are some signs that things are turning around for the creative 25-year-old pivot, however. The first and most important step is that hes aware theres a problem with his game that needs addressing. The second step was getting Krejci back together with wayward right winger Nathan Horton something that Claude Julien opted for at Wednesdays nearly two-hour practice at Ristuccia Arena.

Krejci will be centering Horton and most likely Benoit Pouliot in Thursdays opening look at the Canadiens this season at TD Garden, and the center thinks being reunited with Horton should help him find his game quickly.

It certainly cant hurt.

When I saw Horton in the same line drills as me I was excited, said Krejci. We had a good practice today, and well get back on the ice tomorrow for a game and play just like I know that we can. We want to make some plays and hopefully score some goals.

Right now Im not going the way I want to go myself, so its good to have him on my line. When one guy was down the other guys would help them out, so hopefully we can build each other up and get back into our form.

Those familiar with Krejci know he can go through stretches where he seems invisible out on the ice, or a string of neutral opponents dont really bring the heat needed out of the Czech Republic center.

But Montreal is a hockey foe Krejci has always upped his game against. The Habs are the perfect opponent for the struggling center looking to get his offense and his teams offense back on track for a productive campaign.

Krejci and the Bruins offense have both been on a similar track through the early portion of the season, but both might just be poised for an explosion Thursday night at the Garden.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy


Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.