Krejci breaks slump with three-point game

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Krejci breaks slump with three-point game

TORONTO Though the stats werent necessarily always backing it up, Claude Julien spied plenty of evidence earlier this week that David Krejci was working his way through early season difficulties.

The Czech Republic center was rewarded for the effort hes been putting in by finally piling up some production in the form of a three-point effort in the Bruins 7-0 thrashing of the Leafs at the Air Canada Center.

It was his biggest offensive eruption in a modest season, and Krejci snapped a six-game pointless streak with a right place at the right time score in the second period. The Krejci goal finished off a long stretch of pressure from the Bs erstwhile scoring unit, and handed the Bs a gaudy five-goal lead they wouldnt relinquish.

Krejcis night finished up with a pair of assists on both of Milan Lucics goals, and more than tripled his season-scoring output in the points department he values pretty highly. Krejci knows its his job to generate offense and points, and he finally did that for the first time in a season thats seen offensive struggles for the Bs.

I didnt think he played that badly against Ottawa and now it looks like things are paying off for them, said Julien. We just need Krejci and Horton to keep getting better because theyre an important part of the hockey club.

Krejcis helpers arrived on both Lucic goals in the win over the Leafs, and the center was heartened after the game. He was starting to see some results after putting hard work into turning things around over the last few games, and getting away from the coasting habit that can creep into his game.

Krejci finished with nearly 16 minutes of ice time and clocked out after winning 5-of-10 face-offs -- and succeeding in twice engineering quick follow-up scores for the Bruins on the heels of Leafs goals that really demoralized Toronto.

I got some momentum on my side and it was a good night. Obviously Im going to try and make that a turning point, said Krejci talking the game in terms of his season. My game is just going to go up.

Krejci now has four points and a minus-3 in nine games this season. He looks like hes slowly climbing out of the malaise that tainted his game through the first month. The young center simply needed a place to create and enjoy a little positive feedback on the ice, and all of that was present in the feel-good win over the Leafs.

There is still room for improvement, however.

Krejci looked a little lazy on the first power play when a telegraphed pass from the half-wall turned into a Toronto rush down the other end of the ice. He also couldnt come close to cashing in on a 3-on-2 advantage in the third period when the crafty center had both Lucic and Nathan Horton bearing down hard on the wings.

Ive felt pretty good the last couple of games, but Im a guy thats supposed to put the puck in the net or make it happen. Tonight it happened and I feel good about that, said Krejci, who scored on his only shot of the night. In the last game Milan had a goal and I felt like we had so many chances against Ottawa. But the luck wasnt on our side. We finally got the luck on our side and got a few goals.

Given the difficult puck luck that came the Bs way in the first month, a few more goals for Krejci and Co. should be in the cards as long as they keep working and competing for pucks.

Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

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Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

CHICAGO – Well, the Bruins are certainly opening themselves up for a little second-guessing.

The B’s were trying to move their first-round pick, but ultimately made the selection in Finnish D-man Urho Vaakenainen, who is described by scouts as a classic stay-at-home defenseman type without much offensive upside.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Vaakenainen had a goal in six games for Team Finland at a disappointing World Junior tournament, and didn’t post anything eye-catching while playing for JYP of SM-Liiga where he appeared in 41 games, tallying two goals and four assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-five. He spent the 2015-16 season with Blues of SM-Liiga, scoring a goal and five assists in 25 games.

Some scouting reports cast him as strictly a stay-at-home D-man with limited offensive skills while other scouting reports give him a little more credit for his two-way game and smooth puck-moving abilities without any big holes in his game.

“Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offense,” said Sportsnet anchor and prospect aficionado Jeff Marek leading up to the draft in one of his mock drafts. “He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.”

Vaakenainen said he was surprised to be taken by the Bruins given that he had just one conversation with them at the NHL Scouting Combine, and hadn’t really talked to any Bruins scouts throughout the hockey season. On the plus side, Vaakenainen said he models his game after Nashville defenseman Roman Josi and prides himself on his skating, his passing and shooting and his ability to play the two-way game.

“I think I’m a great skater…good with the puck,” said Vaakenainen. “I have a great first pass. I’m a complete package and a two-way defenseman, steady guy. My expectation was to go in the first round. I wasn’t expecting to go Boston, but the first round was my expectation. I met them at the combine, but that was it. That was the only meeting in person.”

Clearly, it remains to be seen how a young, raw prospect like Vaakenainen develops over time and there were plenty of mock drafts and scouting services that him getting selected in the first round. Still, once in a while it wouldn’t kill the Bruins to go with a player holding larger upside like Finnish power forward Kristian Vesalainen or dynamic, undersized winger Kailer Yamamoto. 

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.