Lucic, Krejci regaining their form

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Lucic, Krejci regaining their form

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

CALGARY The Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand Show has practicallylugged the Bruins around offensively for nearly two months, and played to rave reviews through the entire NHL community.

Theres very little mystery as to why.

Bergeron has again become Bostons leading scorer, their best player and the biggest threat the B'shave to make significant plays both in the offensive and defensive zone.

Marchand potted his 19th goal of the season in the Bs 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames, and moved one step closer to becoming the first Bs rookie to score 20 goals since Brad Boyes potted26 goals backin 2005-06.

But the big story out ofBoston in animpressive, wrinkle-freewin over a Flames team that hadnt lost in regulation at the Saddledome in over a month and a team that the Bs hadnt beaten in Calgary since 1997, when names like Anson Carter, Ray Bourque, Jim Carey and Grant Ledyard dotted the roster was the rise of the Bruins' top offensive line back to form.

There has been plenty of signs and shreds of evidence that Milan Lucic and David Krejci were both piecing their games backtogether, and right wing Nathan Horton was being pushed right along with them. The signs and hints all ultimatelyled to the lines performance in the win over Calgary behind a pair of goals from Lucic, and a dazzling, daring performance down the middle from Krejci that helped produce some much-needed offense.

Theyve been on fire lately, said Marchand. Theyre really picking it up, and were awfully tough to play when weve got other lines going and you cant focus on any one. Its just too hard for the other team.

The newly formed trio managed to combine for 10 shots on net, and totaled more than 13 of the teams total offense with 29 aggregateshots leveled against Finnish goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. For Lucic, everything that went down in Calgary originated with things starting to click in the win over the Senators last week.

I think we created a bit of momentum in the last game against Ottawa. Horton had a big goal against Ottawa, and helped set up another big goal for Seidenberg on the power play, said Lucic. As a line were most effective when were skating, and thats what we were doing tonight.

Our game kind of fell off there in January. We all werent making smart plays, we were coughing up pucks and we werent moving like we usually do. These last couple games I feel like were moving as we should be, were strong on the puck and were winning battles. If we want to be an effective line, thats exactly what weve got to do.

Krejci now has tenpoints (2 goals,8 assists) in his last seven games while manning the center spot on Bostons top line, and has once again stepped into the breach left by the injured Marc Savard a role Krejci has dutifully filled in each of the last three seasons whenever No. 91 has broken down.

Meanwhile Lucic had the two goals in Tuesdays win the first a great tap-in on a nice slap-pass from David Krejci while working the puck off the side wall and thenLucics NHL-best fifth empty net goal of the year to ice thingsfor the Bruins and has put up nine points (6 goals, 3 assists) and a plus-6 in his last 10 games.

Even Horton has 2 goals and six assists in his last nine games, and appears to again be flashing the ability to mix in some dominant offensive performances mixed in the more invisible performances like Tuesday night in Calgary. That's partially a Horton thing, but more a Krejci and Lucic thing as the duo has elevated their games with the important hockey month of March approaching.Both players have typically elevated their games when the big moments come, and that's once again the case.

Despite Hortons absence of production, Bs coach Claude Julien said that the top line was something thatthe hard-to-please hockey coach trulyliked as he watchedhis best offensive players finallybeginning to assert themselves again.

They were good tonight. They were good as Ive seen then in a long time here. I really felt pretty good about all four lines: everybody went out and did their job, and they were really reliable the while way, said Julien. You want to get contributions from all four lines, and tonight was the kind of night where everyone was able to recharge the batteries.Consider Lucic and Krejci charged, and ready to go.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.