Krejci answers critics who say he 'floats' during regular season

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Krejci answers critics who say he 'floats' during regular season

WILMINGTON, Mass. David Krejci wanted to make it very clear that hes much more comfortable playing on the ice than he is talking about himself.

Im not a talker guy like somebody else might be, admitted Krejci. I just go out there. I dont make the headlines with things that I say. I just want to go on the ice and show everybody. I know it wont be easy and there will be some bad games, but I just want to leave everything on the ice no matter what happens.

If I screw up on the ice or if the coach yells at me, I just have to get my head ready for the next shift.

The 26-year-old center has always been a soft-spoken, intelligent youngster from the Czech Republic thoroughly willing to speak his mind, and hes always been keenly aware of whats being said, written and rumored about him. So Krejci was understandably proud after scoring a career-high 23 goals last season, but he also weathered more criticism after finishing a career-worst minus-5 in 79 games. The playmaking center was always able to shake off some of the regular season criticisms by coming up big in the postseason, but last year all of that dried up for him after a giant pane of TD plexi-glass crashed on his head following Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

Krejci managed only a single goal and three points in the seven-game series loss to the Caps, and the Czech Republic center appeared alternately frustrated and exasperated throughout the series.

Thats a far cry from the player that put up 22 goals, 73 points and an NHL-best plus-37 during his first full year in the NHL in 2008-09.

It was a difficult season where he was demoted to the third line for the first time in his career, he was regularly criticized by coach Claude Julien as a player that could bring more to the table and it ended altogether too soon for a skater that lives for the playoffs.

But what bothered Krejci most of all when he had the chance to reflect on a season full of frustration?

It was the assertions that he floats or coasts through the regular season at times, and that he plays without the propel level of urgency too often when its not life or death in the postseason. Krejci said he heard those critics loud and clear last year, and his whole summer of work was built around proving them wrong.

Some of it stemmed from an interview last year where No. 46 said the regular season doesnt excite him like the playoffs do, but its always more about what the eye test says while watching Krejci play.

I try not to read too much during the season, but there are times when you watch or read things, said Krejci. Ive learned a lot about myself in the last couple of years. I tried to take those things and turn them into a positive, and I used them as motivation when I was working out this summer.

Sometimes you do interviews and you dont always say the smart things or things that you dont mean to. I remember that my name was being tossed around that I was a floater and that I dont play hard enough in all 82 games during the season . . . that I float during the season and then turn it on during the playoffs.

Some of those reports also included trade rumors of Krejci moving to Anaheim in exchange for Bobby Ryan or Phoenix in a swap for Keith Yandle as Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin could eventually slot into the top two center spots on the Bs depth chart. Those whispers certainly dont appear to be dying down anytime soon with the salary cap expected to go down, and Krejci now commanding more than 5 million per season as the teams highest paid forward (5.25 million) next season.

Obviously Krejci didnt like what he read and heard, and appears to have gained a few pounds of muscle while over the summer months working out in the Czech Republic.

Maybe something like that did happen, but if it did I dont always say the right things or say what I mean. I know what the organization thinks about me, but Ive heard my name tossed around in the newspapers with trade rumors, said Krejci. You read them saying lets trade for this guy because he doesnt float during the regular season just like Krejci does, so those things got me motivated for this year. I worked really hard this summer and hopefully it shows this season on the ice.

The best way for Krejci to silence the critics that havent enjoyed the hot-and-cold performances: consistency. In the months of October and February last season Krejci managed only three points and a minus-12 in 20 games, and essentially disappeared for close to two months of the season.

In the other five months Krejci scored 59 points and was a plus-7 in 59 games last season, and was exactly the kind of player people around the Bruins envisioned when the Czech Republic pivot finally reaches his considerable potential.

So Krejci knows whats been said about him, and knows what he was to do to quiet those accusers. Now its just a matter of going out and doing it once the season finally gets moving.

Chara: 'A great honor' to be nominated for Masterton Trophy

Chara: 'A great honor' to be nominated for Masterton Trophy

It takes only the highest levels of perseverance and dedication to the game to log over 1,300 NHL games and to play past your 40th birthday. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has both of those qualities in overflowing amounts as the fourth oldest player in the league behind Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, Arizona Coyotes forward Shane Doan and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cullen. Chara is also the second longest tenured captain in the league behind Doan, who has been the captain of the Coyotes since 2003.

For all those reasons and more, Chara has been voted by the Boston Chapter of the PWHA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) as the Bruins nominee for the Masterton Trophy given to the player that best exemplifies “the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

The Bruins captain has also been the embodiment of good sportsmanship in his 11 years as captain of the Black and Gold while leading teams with his steady, hard-working hand through both epic highs and lows. Chara is always at the forefront of the Bruins charitable efforts and has shown his dedication to the game by nearly always participating for his Slovakian homeland whether it’s world championships, the Olympics or the World Cup as the setting for the International tournament.

It all comes back to Chara’s love for the game, his dedication to setting an example as a professional and his enjoyment of the hard work required to play in the NHL for 18 plus seasons.

“From my first day in the NHL until today it is an absolute thrill to play in the league,” said Chara. “It’s a great honor to be nominated. I always take a lot of pride in doing my job as a professional, and doing it right. Doing all of my work on and off the ice. I’ve always felt really humble about being a part of this league and this game. It’s a game that gives you so much in life, and helps you become a better person and a better hockey player each day.

“I’m just enjoying my time with team and my teammates, and cherish the memories of winning. I just try to work every day on my game and improve. I enjoy every day whether I was 20 years old or 40 years old. I love the game, and I love everything about it.”

Chara had missed only 41 games for the Bruins in his first 10 seasons with the team in a remarkable show of durability and toughness while playing the role a physical defensive stopper. He's never shied away from the big hits, the big players or the big ice time totals. The veteran D-man is having a banner season as a 40-year-old that started out by leading Team Europe to the World Cup Final against Team Canada, and it’s continued with his season-long mentoring job helping develop 20-year-old rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Chara has changed a bit from his Norris Trophy days while adjusting his game to reduced levels of physicality and out-and-out dominance, but the ability to still call on both of those qualities at 40 years old is unique for an intimidating 6-foot-9 force out on the ice. Equally impressive is his standing as a No. 1 defenseman at this point in his 18-plus year career while constantly dedicated to improving himself, and learning, both on and off ice. Perhaps Chara’s most underrated quality is his ability to move the puck and chip in offensively, a set of skills that will see him pass the 600-point milestone this season after a career built in part on a big slap shot from the point.

It’s also a great example of Chara remaking himself into more of a puck-mover and power play point producer when he was projected to be a good defense/limited offense shutdown defenseman all those years ago working his way through the Islanders’ ranks.

Chara continues to be a strong lead-by-example personality within the Bruins dressing room, one who demands hard work and total dedication to both the game and the team concept when it comes to his Boston teammates.

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While the sequence of events over the past couple of days could understandably lead one to wonder who will start between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night vs. Nashville, interim coach Bruce Cassidy tried to quell any hint of a goalie controversy.

The vote of confidence was certainly needed after Anton Khudobin’s fifth consecutive win halted the B's four-game losing streak with a huge 2-1 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night in the wake of Rask’s absence while tending to a short-term lower body issue.  

“[Rask] had a good practice today. I spoke with him. We’ll see how he wakes up tomorrow and we’ll make our decision. He’s our No. 1 goalie, so there’s no way we can skirt our way around that issue. He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision,” said Cassidy. “He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year...and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.

“That’s why we have two goaltender, and [Anton Khudobin] has really stepped up in that last stretch and done what’s asked of him. He’s fixed that area of our game. It’s nice to have a guy that’s your No. 2 that can win you hockey games and play well. It’s a great problem to have, to be honest with you. But Tuukka is our No. 1. But Tuukka is our No. 1. He’s our guy.”

Rask declared himself fit to play after going through a full Monday practice with no issues, but said he’s still waiting to hear the final word on whether he’ll play on Tuesday night vs. the Predators. The Bruins franchise goalie also said he isn’t worried about any recurrence of the lower body injury that “popped up” in the Tampa Bay loss Thursday night, which really doesn’t bring any clarity to the entire situation.

“It was a good day back on the ice. I feel good. We’ll see what the decision is [for the Nashville game], but I feel good today,” said Rask, who is 8-8 with a .892 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average since the All-Star break, compared to Khudobin’s 2-0-0 with a .920 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average. “You need to put the best lineup out as possible, and I wasn’t in any shape to play. So, there are no easy decisions this time of year, but I’ve played a lot of hockey and injuries happen. We talked to the training staff and managers and came to a decision that [Khudobin] was going to play the game, and that’s it.

“It’s obviously tough from a personal standpoint, but it’s never about one guy or two guys. It’s a team game and I feel confident that we’re going to get the job done as long as we play the way we did. It was great to see.”

Clearly, it looks like Rask is going to play vs. Nashville and that’s the safe, easy decision when it comes to a No. 1 goalie getting paid $7 million a season and perhaps it all works out with a fired up Finnish netminder after sitting out Saturday night. But nobody is going to be faulted if they wonder what’s going to wrong with Rask ahead of the next gigantic game Boston will have to play with the Stanley Cup playoffs on the line.