TORONTO (CBS) – After one of the Bruins’ two practices in the days leading up to Wednesday night’s battle for first place in the Northeast Division with Toronto, head coach Claude Julien preached patience when talk shifted to the struggles of David Krejci and his linemates.
“Through the course of a season,” the coach explained, “you have those highs and lows, and sometimes you need to be a little bit patient. Because if they were playing badly and spending most of their time in our own end, or being lazy and not having anything happen, it’s be a different situation. But I think they’re getting their chances.”
Unlike some slumps where talk of “getting chances” is just lip service, Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton’s recent scoring drought was caused more by tough bounces and bad timing than lack of effort.
Well, Julien and the Bruins don’t have to be patient any longer. Krejci and Co. broke out in a big way against the Maple Leafs with seven points in the 6-3 win. Krejci, as he often is when his line is going well, was the orchestrator in the middle of it all. He scored his first goal in 10 games early in the second period. He setup Zdeno Chara for the go-ahead goal late in the second period with his uncanny vision and quick decision-making. Later in the game, he again slowed the pace down so he could thread the needle for Lucic for the goal that stuck the dagger in the Leafs.
In the past, Krejci might’ve beaten himself up over his struggles. But with the Bruins winning (to the tune of a 12-0-1 record in November) and Chris Kelly’s line picking up much of the slack – not to mention Krejci’s accumulated veteran wisdom – the center sounded this week as though he had the confidence of a player on a hot streak.
“So it’s fun with the guys and I feel I’ve been making some good plays lately,” he said. “So hopefully I’m going to keep doing it and create even more chances and once we get hot, my line, hopefully we’re going to start putting the puck in the net more often.”
It was impossible to attempt a heat check on Krejci’s line after the victory over the Leafs because they were on fire. Krejci now has 4-9-13 totals in 20 games – still a bit off the pace a team with Stanley Cup aspirations expects out of its top-line center. So it’ll be up to Krejci now to keep the heat on.
“We’ve seen him catch fire all of a sudden and he just keeps producing and producing,” said Julien earlier this week about Krejci. “But the one thing David wants to get better at, and we’d like to see him do the same, is consistency. Streaky can be good when you’re on a good streak, but consistency is even better. That’s what I know he’d like to be better at and he’s got to keep working on.”
Consist production has to start somewhere. The romp of the Leafs might’ve been Krejci’s launching point.