Krejci expresses desire to stay in Boston after win

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Krejci expresses desire to stay in Boston after win

TORONTO Its only natural that the news of the Anaheim Ducks shopping talented winger Bobby Ryanwas met with excitement in just about every other NHL city. Its not every day that a 25-year-old power forward with 40-goal potential and a reasonable contract (5.1 million over the next three years) becomes available to the highest bidder.Alas, the firing of Anaheim's head coach Randy Carlyle in favor of Bruce Boudreau has likely ended the Ryan sweepstakes before they even got started.

When the Duckswere mullingRyan not being apart of the solution, it was expected a deal forthe forward could net the Ducksa dynamic top line center, a top-four defenseman and a first round pick as part of the return package.

So its only natural David Krejci be mentioned as part of a potential package deal for Ryan given that hes approaching restricted free agency, and given that the Bruins are stacked depth-wise at the center position. The B's playmaker has also been struggling a bit out of the gate this season, and Ryan's salary cap tag matched up favorably with the kind of money Krejci will be seeking in a contract moving forward.

So the Ducks would also likely havesoughtDougie Hamilton and a first round pick to round out the ransom for a winger thats potted 100 goals over the last three full seasons in Anaheim. That made it a non-starter for many around the Bruins -- this hockey writer included -- but there were other possibilities.

If they were to get involved perhaps the Bruins could talk Ryans price tag down to Johnny Boychuk or Adam McQuaid along with Krejci and the draft pick getting shipped to the Ducks for their young superstar.

But there is no concrete proof that Boston had everdipped their toes in on the Bobby Ryan sweepstakes. The New York Rangers weresaid to be the leaders in the clubhouse for the Ducks sniper, and Krejci finally snapped out of a weeks-long funk with a three-point effort in Bostons 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

Krejci cleaned up Nathan Hortons net drive by popping in the rebound for Bostons second goal of the evening, and snapped a nine game goalless streak in the process that dated back to aNov. 7 winagainst the New York Islanders.

He then set up a pair of goals following his second period score, and equaled the number of points hed been able to muster in nine games leading up to Wednesday nights divisional battle with Toronto. The third period pass to Lucicin front of the night was classic No. 46 and showed that the playmaking pivot is still operating at a very high level when the mood strikes him.

Its one of the biggest keys to our line. When hes moving the puck with confidence and hes protecting it hes good. It seems like hes been a little frustrated this year, said Milan Lucic. But he didnt have that tonight, so hopefully hes getting some confidence as well.

We went into this game wanting to end the month right head into December."

Then Krejci spoke at length about building confidence and going on a run with linemates Lucic and Horton now that theyre feeling it offensively.

The playmaking center has admitted in recent days that hes heard some of the tradetalk surrounding him, and its only become louder in the moments following Anaheims management flirting with flippingRyan. So Krejci was aware of some of the rumors, and theres no telling whetherthe urgency that comes with tradewhispersreally spurred him onto a higher level of performance. Krejci is a player that seems to rely on motivation to push him into his highest level of play, and he looked like his motor was running Wednesday night.

One thing is certain: Krejci doesnt want to go to Anaheim or anywher else.He sounded more like somebody ready to cross his arms and refuse to budge from the Bruins should things haveprogressed with Anaheim on Ryan. The Czech Republic center was drafted by Boston, hes developed in his time with the Bruins and he wants to potentially win another Stanley Cup with his current set of teammates.It's good to hear, and it's something Krejci should want to protect with heightened play until he signs another deal with the B's.

I love the city. I love the team. Everybody really gets along well. We are winning, said Krejci when asked about the trade rumors. "I like to be on a winning team and I like to have a chance to win the Cup. This is the team, you know? I would like to have a chance to stay here.

There were some talk about me getting traded, but I didnt even know about it. I try to focus on my game and stay away from these things.

Did it seem curious that whispers and rumors start kicking up when the Bruins are in the middle of their best month of hockey in more than 40 years?

Its probably somebody starting a rumor and then other people getting involved. I dont really care, said Krejci. I really like this team right now and Im going to do everything I can to help them win.

Theres no denying that perhaps some of the trade chatter has served as a good motivational tool for Krejci going into big games against Toronto.But theres also nousedenying the homegrown centers intentions. Krejci knows he can continue building toward being a better player this season, and can almost taste another long Cup run despite the checkered start to his season.Krejci is staying for the time being, and that's exactly the way he wants it.

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him. 

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.