Struggling Krejci needs the puck more

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Struggling Krejci needs the puck more

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.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.