Boston Bruins

Haggerty: Krejci has been difference-maker since coaching change

Haggerty: Krejci has been difference-maker since coaching change

BOSTON – The first goal scored by David Krejci and the Bruins on Wednesday night revealed every bit of the story that needed to be told.

Drew Stafford threw a wide, cross-ice pass off the boards that was leading the 30-year-old center, and Krejci kicked things up into a higher skating gear to blow right past Danny DeKeyser and execute a nifty little one-on-one move on Detroit rookie goalie Jared Coreau.

It’s the kind of burst that Krejci didn’t have in the first few months of this season coming back from hip surgery and still didn’t have in December and January when it came to playing the 200-foot game that Boston needs from him in order to be successful.

“I feel good. I’ve been playing with some good players. It was tough coming back from the hip surgery. But, now I feel really good. I feel like I got my speed back, so, just keep going,” said Krejci, who looks like he could hit 20 goals in a season for the first time since the 2011-12 season. “I don’t even think I would have tried [to speed by a D-man early in the season]. Like I said, I feel good in general. I feel like I’ve got another gear, so you keep working hard. The credit goes to my linemates. I’ve been playing with some good players. So, it’s been fun.”

The compete level has been fun and fully there for the past 12 games, however, as Krejci has five goals and 12 points, along with a plus-2 rating in a dozen games with Bruce Cassidy and was the driving offensive force with a pair of goals and three points in a 6-1 spanking of the Red Wings a TD Garden.

“He was all over it [against Detroit] and he had a great game,” said David Pastrnak. “It was easy for me to follow him, and yeah, he just had a great game. Hopefully we can keep going.”

It was the first chance for new guy Stafford to play on Krejci’s left side and that combo teamed immediately for a pair of goals, but the real key to unlocking the center’s game has been teaming him with fellow Czech David Pastrnak.

Those two players have been dynamic, creative and productive together, even when 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik wasn’t able to put the puck in the net, so putting finishers on either side of Krejci caused an absolute red light explosion on Wednesday night. It’s a far cry from the lollygagging player who failed to back-check on a crucial third-period goal in a loss to Toronto - that ultimately cost Claude Julien his job in Boston - and who racked up a minus-11 rating in the first four months of the season.

“I don’t want I want to speak for the player but I would say that having [David] Pastrnak on his wing...he’s probably enjoyed that," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Who wouldn’t? The kid’s a dynamic player, he comes with energy every night, and he’s great on the fore-check. I think David [Krejci] needs that one guy on his wing – someone who will get in there if we’re going to dump it in behind their D. We need to recover some of those pucks. I think Krech’s [David Krejci] strength is a transition game most of the time.

“When he’s making plays through the neutral zone or small ice plays so when we have to do it on the fore-check I think Pasta has really helped him get some pucks back. We’ve used different wingers so maybe that’s the biggest thing. It’s a chance to do what he does, but you’d have to ask him at the end of the day. We’ve allowed him to play to his strength and most nights he’s been very good. Tonight it was nice to see him score too because he’s generally pass first. He’d probably tell you he could have had four tonight. There were a couple around the net as well, so it was good for him I think he needed it.”

The bottom line for Krejci and the Bruins is this: The playmaking, the production and all-around dominance with the puck on his stick against the Red Wings has become more of the norm lately rather than the exception to the rule. The Czech-born center and big-game player looked like the vintage version of a player that led the entire playoff field in scoring in the 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, and though turning 31 in April, is still young enough to tap into his considerable “in his prime” abilities.

“I knew it was going to come. I was there before. The same thing happened last time [he had hip surgery]. I started feeling good – it was an Olympic year, and at the Olympics, I started feeling really good, came back and it went well,” said Krejci. “I knew it might take a little bit longer than October or November. But, I’m glad it’s here now and I can just focus on the game.”

Regardless of whether it was post-surgery recovery or feeling a bit shackled by Julien’s conservative coaching tendencies, Krejci is playing his freest and easiest level of hockey the past month. That’s a big key for the sometimes streaky Krejci and a crucial piece to Boston’s drive to the playoffs if they want to be successful. 
 

Brad Marchand: NHL’s new face-off crackdown ‘an absolute joke’

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Brad Marchand: NHL’s new face-off crackdown ‘an absolute joke’

BRIGHTON, Mass – Count Brad Marchand among those NHL players that don’t like how closely officials are calling face-off violations so far this preseason.

The NHL is cracking down on run-of-the-mill slashing penalties to the arms and hands and calling an excessive number of penalties for forwards “cheating” in the face-off circle prior to the drop of the puck. 

This essentially means the opposing centers taking the face-off can’t be standing or have their sticks on the painted hash marks and instead must stand perfectly still while waiting for the puck to drop. Two consecutive violations of Section 10 of the rulebook will result in a two-minute delay of game: face-off violation penalty. It was called on numerous occasions for the first eight NHL preseason games played on Monday night.

Needless to say, Marchand was watching some games on Monday night while not playing in the first two preseason games for the Bruins and he called the stricter interpretation of the rulebook “an absolute joke.”

“The slashing [penalties] is one thing, but this face-off rule is an absolute joke. That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play all year like that,” said Marchand. “Basically you have to be a statue. You can’t move. It takes away from the center iceman. I think there was even a play [in the game I was watching] last night where a penalty was called on a 4-on-4 before play on the first penalty had even started because of a draw.

“That’s just a joke. I don’t know how you expect guys to step back, guys are excited to get in there and help out there centerman. I know they’re trying to add a little more offense to the game [with power plays] and make it more exciting, but you don’t want to ruin the game. It’s frustrating for everyone. There are ways to make the game better, but this isn’t one of them. We might as well start throwing D-men in there to take draws.”

Marchand did acknowledge that sometimes on-ice officials put an extra emphasis on making a slew of calls in preseason to let players get used to any new enforcement of rules like for face-offs and slashing calls. Perhaps that’s what is going on here. That may be the case in the face-off circle, but it sounds like Marchand is going to be one unhappy camper if the more stringent face-off rules interpretation creeps into the regular season. 


 

DeBrusk excited ‘to get his look tonight’ with Krejci, Pastrnak

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DeBrusk excited ‘to get his look tonight’ with Krejci, Pastrnak

BRIGHTON, Mass – After watching fellow Bruins prospects Anders Bjork and Jesse Gabrielle score in the preseason opener vs. the Canadiens on Monday night, Jake DeBrusk knows the bar has been set for him as he readies to take the ice against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

It will be the first preseason game for DeBrusk this fall and it his first in a top-six spot at left wing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak.

DeBrusk, 20, has worked with Krejci exclusively the first five days of camp and Pastrnak was added to that duo as soon as he signed and reported to Boston last weekend. It’s clear the Bruins are giving the former first-round pick a big audition with Krejci and Pastrnak, and DeBrusk is excited to show what he can do.

“I’m feeling good, excited to put on the jersey again and play at the Garden,” said DeBrusk. “We see each other every day, and we know how good we all are. I saw a couple of [young] guys get on the board last night with a big comeback win. So they kind of set the tone and we’re expecting the same result for sure. I just want to show that I can stay there, that I can play on that line and that I belong in that [top-six] area.”

DeBrusk hasn’t quite immediately taken off the way Bjork has in the first week of camp, but he’s been steadily trying to improve chemistry with Krejci and Pastrnak as the practice days have unfolded. Clearly, there is skill there with DeBrusk after 19 goals and 49 points in 70 games with the P-Bruins as a first-year pro, but there’s still some question as to whether he’s a no-doubt top-six winger or more of a third line type who can play higher in the lineup.

“[We want to see him] get pucks off the wall to Krejci,” Bruce Cassidy said. “Krejci is great coming out of our end with speed and leading the attack. That’s one of his strengths. We look for [DeBrusk] to be on top of pucks and create turnovers much like [Pastrnak] does on fore-check in the neutral zone. He does have good foot speed and a good stick. We’re looking for him to finish plays. Obviously, the guy on the right side, Pasta, has made a name for himself doing that, so not all of the pressure is on Jake to do that.

“We just want him to pitch, and when there are plays there to be finished we want him to be able to do that. Then obviously he’s got to do it on a consistent basis, but he’ll get his look tonight. He’s been on that line for three or four days, so let’s see what he’s got.”

Certainly, the intensity has been there for DeBrusk while also showing a little frustration when plays haven’t been made with Krejci in practice. Now, he’s looking forward to getting a chance in a preseason game where playmaking chemistry either materializes or it doesn’t.

“It goes hand-in-hand that you want to have games with them as well as practices,” said DeBrusk. “I think every day it’s been getting better, so just looking forward to some game action with them. I’m just going to work hard, play my game, stick to my game and hopefully contribute.”

If DeBrusk does all of that, much like his fellow young prospects did on Monday night in Quebec City, then he should be just fine in his first really big audition with the Black and Gold.