Quiet Krejci leading the way for Bruins
Boston Bruins forward David Krejci cuts around Tyler Bozak of the Toronto Maple Leafs during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto May 8, 2013. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)
The other day in the Boston Bruins dressing room, a big scrum formed around the stall of fourth-line tough guy Shawn Thornton.
The semi-circle of media was deep and strained the space around Bruins centre David Krejci, who was sitting in his stall adjacent to Thornton’s and trying, while seemingly unnoticed by the media throng, to take his skates off.
A couple of seats away, Bruins forward Chris Kelly took in the scene.
“No, you wouldn’t want to ask the leading scorer in the playoffs any questions,” he said of Krejci, who came out of the Bruins’ seven-game first round defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 points and entered Saturday’s games tied for the NHL playoffs scoring lead with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin with 14.
That’s just the way it seems to be with the 27-year-old Krejci, who is earning a reputation for being a prolific playoff performer without much of a profile.
He led the playoffs in scoring when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with 12 goals and 11 assists in 25 games.
With his impressive output so far this spring, he now has 61 points in 67 career playoff games and has a plus/minus of 28.
He’s never been a point-per-game player in the regular season with his best being 73 points in 82 games during the 2008-09 campaign. Since the beginning of the Bruins’ Cup run in 2011, however, Krejci has 18 goals and 22 assists in 40 games in what might be one of the least-heralded stats in the playoffs.
That includes last spring when he had just a goal and and two assists in the Bruins’ seven-game defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals. A heavy pane of glass fell on Krejci during the Bruins’ celebration of Kelly’s overtime goal in Game 1 of the series. Fans at the TD Garden were pounding on it when it fell toward the ice, catching Krejci on the back of the head before flattening him underneath it.
He didn’t seem to be the same after that.
Who would be?
This post-season, Krejci looks like he’s back to the form he showed in helping the Bruins win the Cup in 2011.
He doesn’t come by his points in a flashy way and he is certainly not the most quotable guy off the ice.
“He just makes all the little plays that people in hockey appreciate,” said Kelly. “He doesn’t cheat in his end of the ice.”
“He might be underrated to you guys,” said Bruins winger Milan Lucic, one of Krejci’s linemates, “but he’s not underrated to people in this dressing room.”
Krejci has gotten the better of most of the matchups he’s faced in the playoffs. He has thrived on the challenge of facing the same centre or set of defencemen night after night.
“I don’t know if I like it or not. I don’t know anything else. It’s the way it is in the playoffs and that’s the way it’s been for a long time,” said Krejci. “Everybody knows what they’re up against. I know the guys I’m going to see in this series. I just have to do my thing.”
Krejci wasn’t thrilled with the performance of his line in the Bruins’ Game 1 overtime victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday and is looking to ramp it up for Game 2 Sunday afternoon.
Krejci had an assist on the Bruins’ opening goal by defenceman Zdeno Chara in Game 1 and still managed to reel off five shots on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The Krejci line carried the Bruins in the first round and one of Boston’s traits in their march to the Stanley Cup two years ago was different lines would rise to the occasion in each round.
“That’s what you need to win series, to win the Cup. If you have only one line going, you’re not going to get far. I think we have a good team. I think we showed in the first round, we have many guys who can step up,” said Krejci. “I know people were hard on (Patrice Bergeron)’s line, but Bergy got the two most important goals in the season so far. They stepped up and that’s a perfect example of our team.
“Hopefully we can do it again in the second round.”