I think right now were seeing David Krejci playing the way I think we expect him to play. Its as simple as that.
-- Claude Julien, Bruins coach
BOSTON Claude Julien couldnt have been more matter-of-fact about his top centers play on Saturday night. The Bruins fell in overtime, 3-2, to the Penguins to bring an end to their seven-game win streak. But the loss came in spite of yet another strong effort by Krejci.
He kicked things off with an assist on Zdeno Charas goal to put Boston up 1-0 in the second period. And Krejcis own strike with 33 seconds left in the game forced overtime when it looked like Pittsburgh had the game locked up. The goal salvaged a point to keep the Bruins (84 points) in striking distance of Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia (86).
Its no surprise that Bostons rise in the ranks coincides with a personal streak 11 points in 9 games for Krejci.
This is something that weve talked about for a good portion of the year, is that hes capable of doing that, Julien said on Saturday. Thats the way David Krejci should play and thats what we expect out of him. Hes capable of making those plays, hes capable of seeing the ice well and his two linemates are playing pretty well also, so thats made for a pretty successful line lately.
Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton are indeed reaping the benefits of being centered by a playmaker like Krejci. Lucics two assists give him 15 points in his last 12 games; Hortons helper (on the game-tying goal) extends his point streak to five games and gives him 12 points in his last 12 contests.
The production is at least some kind of answer to the question that buzzed around the Bruins in the first week of February: How would they fare without Marc Savard?
In 2007-08, Krejci was splitting time between Boston and Providence while Savard led the Bruins in scoring. The next season, Krejci racked up 73 points in a full year with the big boys, but Savard boasted 88. So even though Savard sat for half of 2009-10 because of concussions, it was expected that when he returned to full health, he would return to the first line.
But Marc Savard never really got healthy. On February 6, the Bruins star center was shut down. Expectations for Krejci ramped up.
David, as you know in the past, has always been the key to our teams success, Julien said earlier in the week. Whether its been Patrice Bergeron or whether its been Savard thats gone down, hes picked up his game. Hes made a world of a difference for this hockey club. And he knows that. The better he plays, the better the team is, because hes that good of a player.
Krejci has scored in 9 of 12 games since Savard was shut down. His 40 assists are best for the Bruins and in the top 10 in the NHL. Hes helped Horton who had a five-game stretch without a point get into a groove.
The best part for Boston? David Krejci isnt satisfied. Despite helping Chara put the team on the board and scoring to send Saturdays game to overtime, he wanted more. His hunger is exactly what the Bs need as they dive into the final five weeks of the regular season.
I dont think we played our best game, the center said in the postgame. I am positive if we played our game, then we would win. We gave them too many shots in the first two periods. That cant happen.
Reporters flocked to Krejci in the locker room to ask about the point he stole as the clock bore down on the Bruins. But he also had to answer for the point Pittsburgh got away with.
The first line center handled the pressure deftly, as he does on the ice.
We were coming out into the third period. We kind of went all in, Krejci said. We tried to get a goal. We tried to do something. Thats what you need, is your players to step up in those situations.
Funny. Thats exactly what he has done.