Krejci rebounds, plays his game in Bruins win

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Krejci rebounds, plays his game in Bruins win

NEWARK David Krejci is a difficult judge when it comes to evaluating his own play, and the playmaking center knew he like the rest of the Bruins team didnt fare very well against the Dallas Stars last weekend.

Sure he was on the scoresheet and he kept a point streak going in defeat, but he was getting bounced around physically and was dominated in the faceoff circle for long stretches of the game. When Krejci isnt winning faceoffs and controlling puck possession, it puts his big-bodied wingers in chase the puck mode and thats not a good thing unless theyre able to throw a few bone-rattling checks in the process.

So Krejcis line didnt have the puck much against the Stars, and that was something he vowed to help change against the Devils before putting up two points in a 6-1 victory over New Jersey at the Prudential Center.

Krejci fed a beautifully feathered cross-ice pass to Nathan Horton for a power-play goal in the first period, and then scored his eighth goal of the season while tipping a Dennis Seidenberg blast in the third period. It pushed Krejcis scoring streak to six straight games with at least one point, and continues a nice offensive push by his forward line over the last few weeks.

We didnt play our hockey game over the last two games in Phoenix and Dallas. We have something good going on here, so we talked about going back toward the way we know how to play, said Krejci. We had a really strong game putting the puck in the net. We were going short and hard with the shifts and that helped us get the big win.

One of the most important areas that Krejci zeroed in on was taking draws and he dominated on the dot. He won all eight of his draws in the first period against an overmatched Adam Henrique or an embattled Patrik Elias, and finished with 12 faceoff wins in 15 draws.

Coach Claude Julien said Krejcis occasional faceoff woes are all about diagnosing what the opponent is doing to gain an edge over him, and then adjusting his faceoff technique on the fly. Opponents will sometimes change things up on Krejci and force him out of his comfort zone until he makes an adjustment. For instance, Steve Ott ate Krejci up in the faceoff circle Saturday night in Dallas, beating him on eight of nine draws.

Probably where David is going to get better in those areas is when he learns to figure out the issue when hes not winning them," said Julien. "Its not so much him as much as reading the other centermen, seeing what theyre doing and trying to neutralize them to get the advantage.

Sometimes he gets discouraged a little bit and starts thinking negatively. When you dont win draws and when you think youre going to lose, then you will lose. Tonight he felt pretty good and I think our whole team was good in the faceoff circle.

Good is 30 wins in 42 faceoffs throughout the game, and that would be considered great for most teams. But not all teams are leading the NHL in faceoff winning percentage like the Bruins are with their unbendable strength down the middle of the ice.

Krejci certainly struggled against Ott and his legendary faceoff skills in his own mind, but the dominating body of work against New Jersey bodes well for future faceoff assignments.

That kind of performance is all the more impressive on the road, and showed the presence of confidence, execution and gritty determination that sometimes goes missing for Krejci during the season.

Sometimes it happens, but last game I couldnt figure it out. Then I tried to cheat and they kicked me out of the faceoff circle, said Krejci. Today I really bore down and I started 9-0 on faceoffs. I felt pretty good about that and finished strong.

Youve got to win the faceoffs and start with the puck. Its way better to start with it and do something rather than go around chasing the puck. Thats not what we want to do.

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. 

Krejci leaves practice early with 'upper body issue'

Krejci leaves practice early with 'upper body issue'

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins returned to work on Monday after a big win over the weekend, but were one man down by the end of practice at Warrior Ice Arena. David Krejci exited the ice early on Monday and coach Bruce Cassidy said that the playmaking center is battling a bit of an upper body issue.

That was the reason for his abbreviated practice appearance ahead of the game Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

“He’s got a bit of an upper body issue, he’s got a little discomfort,” said Cassidy of Krejci, who has one point and a minus-4 rating over his past four games. “He got treated and I believe he’ll be fine tomorrow. I don’t think it’s anything major, but I can’t speculate [on it]. But that’s the issue.”

There was no play that sticks out from the Saturday night win over the Islanders were Krejci might have hurt himself, but the team’s hope is obviously that it’s something the 30-year-old can keep playing through.

With Krejci having left the ice, Ryan Spooner bumped up to the second line with the following line combos and D-pairings finishing out an hour-long practice:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Stafford-Spooner-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Nash-Hayes

Beleskey-Moore-Acciari

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

C. Miller-K. Miller

 
Rask