VANCOUVER Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have enjoyed scoring tears of late for the Bruins, and its no coincidence that those bountiful scoring stretches have come together with a David Krejci revival.
The Czech Republic center disappeared for long stretches of December and January, but hes been revitalized since again pairing together on Bostons top offensive line with Lucic and Horton. Krejci picked up the assist on Lucics game winner in Bostons 3-1 statement win over the Canucks, and has put up a four-game point streak with a goal and seven assists over those last four games.
Bruins coach Claude Julien lauded Krejci for having one of his best games all season against the Calgary Flames earlier this week, and he flashed all of his considerable offensive skills in setting up the third period game-winner.
Krejci cut through Keith Ballard and Sami Salo en route to the net in a classic move to split the Vancouver defense, and continued to carry Ballard on his back as he whirled around the Canucks cage.
I tried to go through him and tried to get a goal, but somehow, something told I wasnt going to score there. So I went around the net and stuff it in around the side. That didnt work either, so I threw it Seidenberg. Looch and Horton are big bodies in front of the net and Luongo couldnt see, so Looch got to the rebound.
Krejci alertly found Dennis Seidenberg open at the right point, and the Bs defensemen slammed a shot that Roberto Luongo managed to block before surrendering a big rebound in front of the net. The puck landed right at the feet of Lucic, and the rest was childhood dream come true material for the Vancouver native.
Last season Krejci truly found his offensive stride while starring for the Czech Republic in the Olympic hockey tournament, and then helped carried the Bruins offense once he returned to Boston. This season February has again been a good month for Krejci, and once more a late season kick has been in the cards for Bostons playmaking pivot.
Theres really no coincidence that Krejci starts unlocking the unique vision, hands and creativity vital to his game when things start to mean more at the end of the season, and he rises to the competition being stacked against him.
You could say that, said Krejci. Im just trying to do my best like I was at the beginning of the year. Sometimes it wasnt going my way, but now Im more excited that those really count right now. Im trying to help my team get into the best shape they can be in headed into the playoffs. Im pretty happy with the way things have been going the last couple of weeks, but I still have 20-something games to go before we get to the playoffs.
Its no secret that the Bruins are achieving consistency and landing some of their best wins of the regular season with Krejci flourishing and again exploiting opposing defenses with his precision passing and surprisingly effective shooting.
The points are piling up again for Krejci, and thats a very good thing for the Black and Gold.
Andrew Ference was out of Saturday nights game after the first period with a lower body injury, and there was no further update after the win over the Canucks. Ference has had issues with groin injuries over the last few years, and theres always the possibility that type of injury has cropped up again.
Shane Hnidy spoke after the game about signing a one-year deal with the Bruins, and was clearly happy with the development while having no clear indication how close he is to returning from a shoulder.
Ive been cleared to practice, and thats about it at this point, said Hnidy. Im very excited. Boston has been a great place I wanted to go back, and here I am. I know there would be a bunch of steps. The first one was getting out there and practicing. The second one was making the team. Now I just need to move forward and get my health ready so I can fill whatever role is needed on the team.
Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley didnt factor much into the offensive end, but they did a lot of little things to help the win. Each player was a major factor in a penalty kill that kept the Canucks off the board in three different power play chances, and Kelly was both blocking shots and winning face-offs in that stretch.
Peverley and Kelly were really good for us. Especially killing that penalty late in the game. Kelly blocked a couple of big shots there in that last penalty kill, and theyre just very smart players. Theyre smart. Theyre quick. Theyve been a really good addition to the hockey club, and theyve fit in quickly.
Shawn Thornton joked after the game that there was a Serbian Army celebrating in the room adjacent to the visitors dressing room at Rogers Arena as the Lucic family hooted, hollered and cheered jubilantly with Milan Lucic after potting the game-winner against his hometown Canucks he rooted for as a hockey-loving child.