By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON The memories are hazy and a little blurry when they come to David Krejci about last years playoff series against the Flyers.
He was jacked up by Mike Richards near the defensive blueline during his first shift on the ice during Game Three, and the Bs center was clearly the unwittingvictim of a Flyers Captain looking to change the momentum of the series.
It didnt work immediately as the Flyers dropped that game at home, but the absence of Krejci with a gruesomedislocated right wrist was monumental in Phillys rise and Bostons subsequent collapse duringlast year's playoff series.
The night ofthe injury was harrowing for Krejci as he dealt with a wrist that was radiating extreme pain.To make matters worse the playmaking Krejci hadto wait until after the game was finished to travel back to Baltimore with a noted hand specialist for emergency surgery. Krejci was stuck in small holding room adjacent to the Bs dressing room in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Centerwithout any televisions or other means to watch what exactlywas happening while his teammates battled through a tight playoff game.Krejci still cared through the pain and knowledge that his season was done.
The 25-year-old was done for the postseason following the injury, and stuckin a haze of post-surgery medication in the days that followed leading up to Bostons eventual collapse partially due toan absentee Krejci and an impaired Marc Savard attempting to compete with a foggy head. In essence the Bruins were just as done as Krejci at that point in the series, and they just didn't know it.
Last year obviously when Krejci went down, I felt it really created a big hole because Marc Savard hadnt played in the first round. Savard was maybe half the player he was before the concussion courtesy of Matt Cooke when he came back, said Claude Julien. So that left us with Patrice Bergeron and then as you know we had Vladimir Sobotka, we had Trent Whitfield, we had Steve Begin. So we really felt we got thin there and we didnt have the type of centermen we needed to win.
So thats where David Krejcis presence, or lack of presence, really hurt us once he went down. And we lost Sturmy Marco Sturm before too. So you lose two guys from your top two lines and our scoring was a little thin last year. It really affected our team a lot. David Krejci was having tremendous playoffs. So I think this year is a different situation, because when you look at Bergy and you look at Krejci and you look at Rich Peverley and even Chris Kelly can play there, you still have a good centermen. Gregory Campbell as well and lets not forget Tyler Seguin. So there is some depth there and we feel a lot better about that this year. Hopefully wed be able to overcome the challenges we had last year.
Krejci knows that its a new beginning for bothhe and his team against the Flyers this season, and hell be an important figure after leading the Bruins with four points in their highly successful regular season meetings against Philly. Instead Krejci is motivated to improve on the one point scored in seven playoffgames against the Montreal Canadiens while Tomas Plekanec shadowed him and the Hal GillP.K. Subban combo shut down their entire line. Obviously the Bs No. 1line will attempt to shake free and contribute, and Krejci knows much of the pressure falls on his unit to provide offense, pressure and a playmaking for everybody else.
Getting the first line topop along with riling upthe toothless power play will be taking up the Boston coaching staffs spare time above and beyond any other special playoff projects they have in mind. Krejci knows who he's playing, and it's got the fire going in his stomach even if he's not going to throw it out there publicly before the series commences.
It is what it is right now. Its a good chance for myself and the rest of the team to get back at them for last season, said Krejci. Last year was tough. Im not saying that if I didnt get hurt we would have won, but who knows, right?
We would have played in the conference final against Montreal, and I think everybody even you guys in the media would have been comfortable going against those guys. It was heartbreaking. It was tough to swallow, but this is another year. Were not going to think too much about last year. Itll nice after the season is over if we beat them and I can look back and say we took care of them.
Krejci finished the season as Bostons leading point producer and the No. 1 center between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, but he looked far from that guy in the first round against the hated Habs. The center was certainly contributing in other ways as evidenced by the good screen on Hortons overtime game-winner in Game Seven, but the Bruins have always relied on Krejci for points rather than subtle little hockey plays on the ice.He should be ready to set screens, feather passes and finish off the plays left incomplete against Montreal, and reinforce Krejci's belief in himself that he's a No. 1 center in the NHL capable of taking his squad deep into the postseason.
Hell only get one chance to exact retribution on the team and group of Flyersplayers that ended his postseason prematurely last year, so Krejci better make this one count after showing so many flashes over the last three seasons leading up to Boston's chance at ascension.