Boston Bruins

Krejci aiming for more shots, goals this season

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Krejci aiming for more shots, goals this season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON -- Some of the Bruins playoff stats can be pretty eye-opening when placed under the microscope.

Some players regressed away from their regular-season performance, some maintained their body of work, and some ascended to a truly different level amid the Stanley Cup playoff battleground.

David Krejci is in the latter category, and he knows it. The 25-year-old playmaking center managed only 13 goals and 62 points in 73 regular-season games for the Bruins last year.

It wasnt a bad season at all.

But it could have been better for Krejci had an early season concussion and a brief Marc Savard return a move that temporarily displaced him as the No. 1 center -- not negatively affected his offensive numbers. That much was obvious when Krejci led all skaters with 12 goals during the Bs Stanley Cup playoff run a total that was only one less than he managed in more than 70 games during the regular season.

Krejci was well aware of the numbers, and admitted that getting more aggressive with his own offense is something hes focused on heading into the final season of his contract.

Im going to try to carry the momentum of what I had in the playoffs. Ill try to score some goals, said Krejci. Im going to shoot a lot. Im not going to pass up on any shots this year. Its easy to say, but Ive got to show it on the ice so weve just got to wait and see.

Theres also a matter of gaining more consistency in his game, and showing the same kind of want to during a December game against the Florida Panthers as he has once the playoffs begin.

If youre satisfied with your play, then that it isnt good enough. Youve always got to be better. I know I can be better in every single situation, said Krejci, who is often his worst critic in most instances. Get my speed, get stronger, and especially score more goals this year than I did last year in the regular season. Thats where Im going to focus, and it all starts with a strong camp and a good start to the season.

The numbers would seem to indicate that Krejci will score more this season given that he managed a career-high 157 shots on net last season, and trouble finishing around the net led to scoring on only 8.3 percent of those shots. Combined with shooting percentage totals of 10.9 percent (2009-10) and 15.1 percent (2008-09) over the previous two seasons, Krejci should have no problem pumping in close to 20 goals skating with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic for a full season.

Coach Claude Julien drew a parallel to Savards battle with shooting versus passing, and the aggressiveness that can take opponents armed with their pass first scouting reports -- by surprise when Krejci attacks the net. That happened over and over during the playoffs when defenses paid plenty of attention to Horton and Lucic on his wings, and left Krejci with room to operate.

I think the Stanley Cup playoffs is where he gained a lot of that confidence," Julien said. "He realized he can do it in the playoffs he scored almost as many in the playoffs as he did during the regular season and it was because he decided to shoot more and went more to the net. There was a little bit more determination in that area. I think he realized that hes capable of doing that. I see a guy probably improving with those numbers this year especially if he understands it and focuses on it.

Youre going to see him shoot a little more and we need that from David. There were times last year where he had some great scoring areas and chose to pass instead of shoot. We had that issue with Savvy Marc Savard at one point, he always looked to pass before shooting. Those guys know that they do that, but breaking them out of the habit is tougher than realizing it.

Krejci need only review some of the game tape from last years playoff run to witness how much tougher he is to handle when looking for his own offense, and make it just as hard on the rest of the NHL as he did during the postseason.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins

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Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins

The Bruins and Ryan Spooner wisely came to a contract agreement on a one-year, $2.825 million deal just prior to the start of Wednesday’s arbitration hearing. Don Sweeney hasn’t yet taken a B’s player to arbitration during his three years running the Black and Gold, and it could have grown unnecessarily contentious with a player like Spooner if they’d been forced to point out his flaws as a player in the uncomfortable setting of an arbitration hearing.

“It’s a fair deal for both sides in our opinion,” said Spooner’s agent Murray Kuntz to CSN after the one-year contract had been agreed upon. 

Now that Spooner has been signed to the one-year deal, it represents the last chance for the 25-year-old to show some growth as a player if he wants to be a member of the Bruins for much. Spooner has averaged 12 goals and 44 points over the last two seasons as Boston’s third line center, and has amassed 35 PP points while serving as the trigger man on Boston’s power play from the right-side half-wall. 

But he dropped from 49 points two seasons ago to 39 points last year, and didn’t exactly flourish under the more offensive-minded coaching of Bruce Cassidy. 

Spooner is an excellent special teams player and has been one of the key ingredients in Boston finishing with the NHL’s 7th ranked power play in each of the last two seasons. But he tailed off badly late last season after suffering a concussion, and showed so much tentativeness in his overall game that he became a healthy scratch by the end of Boston’s first round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. Spooner also continues to sit under a 40 percent success rate in the face-off circle, and shows little consistent interest in winning one-on-one battles anywhere along the ice.

The work on the draws is something, in particular, that comes down to hard work and diligence at practice, and should be an area Spooner can become at least average while practicing every day against a face-off maestro like Patrice Bergeron.  

All of this might be easier to overlook if he consistently utilized his excellent skating speed and considerable skill level to create offense during 5-on-5 play, but that hasn’t been the case enough over the last couple of seasons. A one-year deal for $2.85 gives Spooner one last opportunity to show some growth in those areas with the Bruins, and if he doesn’t then it should be fully expected the Bruins will rekindle trade discussions around Spooner. 

His situation is unmistakable: Spooner isn't going to be a top-6 center with the B's because Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are firmly entrenched at this spots, and Spooner really doesn't have the right skill set to be a fourth line center. So it's third line center or bust for Spooner as the internal competition grows around him. 

Spooner is now 25 years old and should no longer be viewed as a young player that’s still in the development phase. He should be close to a finished NHL product, and may not get demonstrably better in any area of his game if he doesn’t show it this upcoming season. He was one of the main pieces discussed when the Bruins talked trade with the Minnesota Wild prior to them dealing Marco Scandella to Buffalo, and there is clearly trade value for the former second round pick. 

But the Bruins also have a potential third line center replacement in Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson after signing him out of Boston University at the end of last season. Forsbacka Karlsson may need some AHL time to start this season after looking overmatched in his only NHL appearance late last season, but he’s the eventual two-way center replacement for Spooner in the long term. 

Forsbacka Karlsson may not be as fast or as flashy as Spooner, but he projects to be better on draws, better at winning battles and puck possession and better at being more difficult to play against while boasting his own set of offensive skills. 

It’s now up to Spooner to win that training camp competition with Forsbacka Karlsson for his current third line center position, and protect his own spot on the B’s roster by playing like his very job security depends on it. If he doesn’t show that kind of urgency and hop to his game right from the start of training camp, then it’s only a matter of time before he becomes trade fodder at a salary cap number ($2.825 million) that should be easy to move.

It’s no hyperbole to say that Spooner is entering his final chance with the Black and Gold after avoiding arbitration, and it’s wholly up to him to dictate exactly how long it lasts for.   

Morning Skate: Markov's time with Canadiens likely up

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Morning Skate: Markov's time with Canadiens likely up

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while once again shaking my head reading the news headlines this morning. 

 

*Congrats to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Aaron Portzline, who is another esteemed hockey writer joining up with The Athletic’s Cleveland bureau

 

*Eric Engels says that the Habs signing Mark Streit to a short term deal means that Andrei Markov’s time in Montreal has come to a close. 

 

*The writers for the Pittsburgh Penguins have provided what they call “an Intimate Portrait” of Sidney Crosby from his closest boyhood friends. 

 

*Longtime NHL head coach Bruce Boudreau is trying something a little different out as an owner of a junior hockey team. 

 

*The Nashville Predators are expecting a decision to come soon on Mike Fisher as to whether or not he’s going to keep on playing in Music City. 

 

*Sounds like Mika Zibanejad is going to be filling a No. 1 center role for the New York Rangers after signing a big contract with the Blueshirts. 

 

*For something completely different: Jay Baruchel is looking to revive the Canadian superhero scene after growing up with Captain Canada and Alpha Flight.