BOSTON – The Bruins KIL Line (Krejci/Iginla/Lucic) certainly looks primed for the postseason after another dominant performance from the Black and Gold as they count down the games until the Stanley Cup playoffs game.
Milan Lucic brought his skill (1 goal, three points) and punishing on-ice brutality (five hits) to the table in another beastly performance, David Krejci notched three assists while executing one of the highest degree of difficulty passes in his entire career and Jarome Iginla extended his team lead in goals scored (23) with a pair of strikes in Boston’s 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden.
The Krejci pass was something special for Boston’s first goal. He had his pins taken out from under him in the slot on a give-and-go with Lucic, and had Cam Ward and the entire Hurricanes defense thinking he was going to shoot. Instead he slid a pass to a wide open Lucic just as he tumbled to the ice, and Lucic had a wide open net to slam home his 21st goal of the season.
“Krejci can pass it anywhere…you know he has his sauce,” said Iginla. “That’s nice vision to be able to make that second effort. Krejci has got a lot of skill and stuff, but he works hard too…he competes hard.
“You know they are very driven, and they play with the second effort. To find him backdoor like that was nice…it was a nice way to start the game.”
Iginla and Lucic extended that lead in the second period when the B’s left winger trucked Carolina defenseman Jay Harrison in the offensive zone, took the puck behind the net and then slid a pass to Iginla waiting in front of the net.
Iginla scored the same kind of goal in the third period during a 13-second, two goal explosion that put the game out of reach, and made it a truly special night for all three forwards.
“I think we’re doing a good job supporting each other and using our strength and our speed. You know when we get fore-checking, it tends to turn pucks over and get some zone time where we’re able to create some chances,” said Lucic. “It also it just feels like everything is clicking for our line right now. It’s a good feeling that we have right now, we’ve got to keep pushing and keep wanting it more.”
In all Lucic, Krejci and Iginla powered up for three of the five goals, eight total points, 17 generated shot attempts and a combined plus-10 rating while carrying the offensive water for the B’s in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated. That pushes Krejci to a team-best 59 points (16 goals, 43 assists) on the season, gives Iginla the team lead with his aforementioned 23 goals and should see Lucic north of 25 goals and 60 points at the end of the season.
Those are big numbers for any offensive players on the Bruins roster, and they’ve been produced in the most consistent seasons for Krejci and Lucic as they enter the primes of their NHL careers. Some of that is about the influence fostered by a future Hall of Famer and ultra-consistent performer in Iginla as opposed to the oft-times streakiness of former linemate Nathan Horton.
“I told David [Krejci] the other day, “this is as consistent as I’ve seen you since you’ve been here,” and that’s all part of growing as a player, maturity and understanding his role. At the same time he’s wearing a letter this year, so he’s got some responsibilities,” said Claude Julien. “Looch [Milan Lucic] has come back this year and has played the way he finished last year. We can’t forget these are still young players.
They are in their twenties and they’re young players, so there’s always room for them to grow.
“I think that’s what we’re all seeing here is growth in some of those players. But at the same time you’ve got a guy Jarome Iginla, a guy that has been in the league this long and has done a really great job in maintaining his conditioning, comes into practice and games and works hard, competes hard all the time. Those young guys don’t have an opportunity to do anything more than try and follow his lead.”
What will be interesting to see is who follows whose lead once the postseason gets going, and proven Stanley Cup warriors and playoff performers like Krejci and Lucic will be expected to lead the way. They’ll be skating alongside a player in Iginla that’s been to the conference finals a couple of times, and been to the one Cup Finals back in 2003-04. But he’s never made it all the way to the mountaintop like his two young, electric linemates, and that will most certainly be the rallying cry a month or two for now.
You can almost already hear “Win it for Iggy” as something that’s going to catch on like wild fire in the B’s dressing room.