WILMINGTON David Krejci is a pretty bright young hockey player.
He certainly knows when hes playing well and putting out good, efficient, productive performances.
Krejci also knows when there is something amiss in his game that needs to be corrected.
Lets just say Krejci upped expectations for himself when he scored a team-leading 12 goals during the Stanley Cup run last spring, and those expectations havent been close to met in the early going this year. Theres also a little more of the latter than the former when it comes to where the center is at with his game right now.
I feel like I havent done much this year yet, so I have to start things up, admitted Krejci about a frustrating first month of the season.
Krejci just as much as for the rest of the Bruins hasnt been his best. That was essentially hammered home when Claude Julien busted up his longtime line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, and its plainly obvious in Krejcis output this year: a single point in five games along with a minus-5 to start this year.For more than simple stats just watch the first few shifts of the San Jose Sharks loss from Saturday where Krejci sleepily turned the puck over twice -- including a giveaway in the neutral zone that turned into the Sharks' first goal of the game.
The minus-5 is the worst mark on the team, and a stunning number for a player in Krejci that led the entire NHL with a plus-37 three years ago. On the positive tip Krejci has some pretty good company in the early season plusminus doghouse: Daniel Alfredsson, P.K. Subban, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal and Kevin Bieksa are all minus-5 or worse to start their seasons as well.
A core injury that caused him to miss three games certainly didnt help matters either.
But Krejci said there are no physical excuses for his substandard play early in the season, and said hes 100 percent. In his mind its about demanding the puck, owning the puck and then making plays all over the ice with the puck in his possession once hes become a little more assertive out on the ice.
So dont be surprised if you see Krejci tapping his stick to the ice looking for the puck against Montreal because thats exactly what he wants to get him into his happy place.
Thats my game. I want the puck. I feel really comfortable with my skating right now, so I want the puck in the neutral zone or in our defensive zone, said Krejci. Then I can take it into the offensive zone and make something happen. Thats what Ive got to do. Ive got to want the puck more and Ive got to talk to the D about giving me the puck more.
I need to make something happen, and if I dont then Im not happy because I didnt do my job. Were all going to have to show it tomorrow. We know its not going to be easy, but once we have a chance we have to bury it. There are no excuses anymore. Weve got to start putting the puck in the net.
There are some signs that things are turning around for the creative 25-year-old pivot, however. The first and most important step is that hes aware theres a problem with his game that needs addressing. The second step was getting Krejci back together with wayward right winger Nathan Horton something that Claude Julien opted for at Wednesdays nearly two-hour practice at Ristuccia Arena.
Krejci will be centering Horton and most likely Benoit Pouliot in Thursdays opening look at the Canadiens this season at TD Garden, and the center thinks being reunited with Horton should help him find his game quickly.
It certainly cant hurt.
When I saw Horton in the same line drills as me I was excited, said Krejci. We had a good practice today, and well get back on the ice tomorrow for a game and play just like I know that we can. We want to make some plays and hopefully score some goals.
Right now Im not going the way I want to go myself, so its good to have him on my line. When one guy was down the other guys would help them out, so hopefully we can build each other up and get back into our form.
Those familiar with Krejci know he can go through stretches where he seems invisible out on the ice, or a string of neutral opponents dont really bring the heat needed out of the Czech Republic center.
But Montreal is a hockey foe Krejci has always upped his game against. The Habs are the perfect opponent for the struggling center looking to get his offense and his teams offense back on track for a productive campaign.
Krejci and the Bruins offense have both been on a similar track through the early portion of the season, but both might just be poised for an explosion Thursday night at the Garden.