Frustration setting in for Krejci as Habs shut him down

Frustration setting in for Krejci as Habs shut him down
May 7, 2014, 9:45 am
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MONTREAL – After seemingly getting every chance that they wanted without actually scoring in Game 1, the KIL (Krejci, Iginla, Lucic) Line has gone cold for the Bruins in the last couple of games. Sure, Iginla picked up a redirected goal in the closing minutes of the third period to make it a 4-2 loss for the Bruins to the Canadiens in Game 3, but that line otherwise did nothing in a disappointing loss that saw Boston flat-footed and not ready to play in a playoff game.

“I don’t think we were focused enough to start off in the first period,” said Krejci of the opening 20 minutes when Boston breakdowns led to a pair of goals against. “We’ve been losing all three games at the beginning, and we need to correct that. We seem like we found our game in the third period, but we need to play for 60 minutes and get off to a good start. We have to make sure we keep them off the scoresheet as long as possible, and get the first goal.

“Obviously we’re trying, but it’s not going in the net for us. We’ve been playing pretty good hockey in the third period, but we need to bring the same intensity to the first two. We haven’t done that in three games.”

David Krejci has been a major passenger in the three-game series against the Canadiens with a single assist, and he was worked by Tomas Plekanec in Game 3 with just one shot on goal and a 4-for-14 performance in the face off circle. For the postseason Krejci has produced just three assists and a minus-3 in eight games, and has been effectively shut down by both the Red Wings and the Canadiens.

That means the Bruins offense hasn’t been as functional as it should be with their leading points man struggling offensively. Claude Julien said he senses some frustration from his top line center at this point, and it’s understandable. His offensive game isn’t where it needs to be, and both Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic weren’t very noticeable players in Game 3.

Just four shots on net for Krejci, Iginla and Lucic in Game 3, and that’s simply not enough from Boston’s big dogs.

“This is a line that’s been hot and cold for us in the playoffs," Claude Julien said. "We need them. David has shown a little bit of frustration, and I think he needs to battle through that. But it’s a line that’s given us a lot this year, and sometimes you need to show a little bit of trust. I’m doing that right now. But things need to get better for that line if we’re going to be successful.”

It seems that the lack of time, space and production is starting to chip away at Krejci’s superior playoff confidence. He’s still making some plays as attested by a creative cross-ice drop pass that freed up Torey Krug for a scoring chance, but Carey Price is making the saves when Krejci and Co. finally bust out for a scoring chance.

But it also bears repeating that Krejci’s fellow countryman, Plekanec, held the B’s center to just a single point in seven games during the 2011 Bruins/Habs playoff series, and seems to do a good job shutting down Boston’s top line.

“We knew they were going to come out strong at home to start off, and we didn’t match that,” said Iginla. “That was the biggest difference in the game.”

The clipped production from the KIL Line has also been a big difference-making force in favor of the Habs as they’ve taken a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. It won’t be easy, but Krejci and Co. need to find a way to bust through against a Habs team that’s held them down pretty effectively in the playoffs. The Bruins need the postseason’s leading scorer from two of the last three Stanley Cup playoffs in Krejci, and they need him now.