David Krejci Subtly Dominating Playoffs And Other Leftover Bruins Thoughts
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BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins spoke openly — almost disturbingly so — during and after their first-round series about how they lacked a “killer instinct,” how they may have thought winning the fourth game of that series would come easy, and how their mind-set very nearly cost them their season.
Well, after taking a 2-0 series lead with a 5-2 win over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon, now would be a pretty good time for the team to figure out how to find that instinct.
Because make no mistake, as bad as the Rangers have looked in the first 135 minutes of this series, they are nevertheless a very good team. Winning Game 2 was crucial for the Bruins, but if they can realize just how much is at stake Tuesday night in Game 3, put forth their best effort and take advantage of a slumping/slightly injured Henrik Lundqvist, they’ll be able to take a 3-0 series lead and crush the will of the Rangers, who seem to be on the cusp of completely falling apart.
Of course, Game 3 is Game 3, and we need not move on just yet. Let’s run through some of the leftover thoughts from a most-unexpected blowout at the Garden.
–Torey Krug. I mean. Really. Torey Krug.
The kid skated a grand total of 15:47 this season in the NHL. When this postseason began, he had a total of 40:02 time on ice in his NHL career. So he had the equivalent of one of your lunch breaks as his entire experience at the game’s highest level, and in his first two postseason games, he’s scored twice on the best goaltender in the sport, Henrik Lundqvist. Not a bad week, really.
–Nice week for the Krug family, too, because his parents now have this photograph to print out and use to canvas the walls in their home:
–Krug got the glory on that goal, but don’t forget Adam McQuaid’s efforts on the defensive end, when he dived and broke up a potential Brian Boyle breakaway, which led to the rush that ultimately ended with Krug scoring the goal. Consider that last sentence your glory, Mr. McQuaid.
(We need not mention the fact that Boyle had a 0.31 percent chance of actually scoring on the breakaway. This is time for glory.)
–The final score says that Lundqvist was not the best goalie in the world, and to a certain extent, I agree (I wrote about it more in-depth here). But if the narrative leading up to Game 3 starts to blame Lundqvist and only Lundqvist, know that such a claim is very, very wrong.
If you can forgive the low-resolution screenshots from NHL.com’s video player, here is how Dan Girardi’s afternoon played out at the TD Garden.
That’s five Bruins goals, and that’s five instances of Dan Girardi doing something wrong to varying degrees.
Perhaps going forward, the Rangers’ alternate captain tries harder to get out of his own goalie’s line of sight.
–I think Henrik Lundqvist had reason to sorta/kinda blame his teammates for screening him on several goals, and I actually commend him for not throwing Girardi under the bus for what was a horrific, horrific performance in Game 2. That being said, it was more than a little amazing to see “King Henrik” put on his crown hat, complete with the No. 30 in the middle of the crown, before talking with the media. Not all five goals were his fault, but this is a bottom-line, results-oriented business. Imagine if LeBron James went 2-for-19 from the field and then wore a crown before talking with the media? He’d get crushed.
We let Henrik off the hook because he’s not LeBron, and also, those looks — my God, those looks! But if he lets in another five spot on Tuesday, perhaps he ought to keep the crown hat hanging in his locker.
–Tuukka Rask was pretty good, but I don’t think he really stole any headlines for his play in Game 2. That’s mostly fair, but one save in particular deserves a bit more attention.
With 3:41 left in the second and the Bruins leading 3-2, Johnny Boychuk sent a perfect tape-to-tape pass to Derek Stepan. Unfortunately for Boychuk, Stepan plays for the other team, and he passed from one faceoff circle to the other, where Carl Hagelin was set up for a one-timer. Rask used his entire body to get his momentum going from right to left, and as he made his way in that direction, Hagelin’s shot went low to Rask’s right. Somehow, Rask managed to reach back with his right leg and stab the puck with his toe, and he eventually dragged it with him as he slid on the ice in the opposite direction.
It was a subtle stop, in that it wasn’t a flashy catch with the glove or a diving stick save, but it was huge. It preserved the lead, which doubled shortly after the third period began, and it prevented the Rangers from getting the result they wanted in a period they all felt they played their best hockey.
–Rask also got the help of his good buddy, the right post, on a Stepan shot through traffic from close range. The photo of the play almost perfectly captures the mayhem of playoff hockey.
–Jaromir Jagr went for a postgame skate a couple of hours after the game ended, something he does frequently, usually with weighted vests and stuff because he is a crazy person who likes to work out like a crazy person. He hasn’t been lighting it up statistically, and he was arguably flat-out bad against the Maple Leafs, but there are certain things he does that just makes you shake your head in awe. Exercising after an NHL playoff game at the age of 41 is one of them.
–We here in Boston have seen what a bad power play looks like, and we’ve seen a bad power play somehow not get in the way of the Bruins’ winning a Stanley Cup. But impossibly, the Rangers’ power play is worse. The Bruins converted just 10 of their 88 power plays in the 2011 postseason, “good” for an 11.4 percent “success” rate. After an 0-for-5 on Sunday, the Rangers are now 2-for-36, for a success rate of 5.6 percent. Five-point-six percent!
You should not get 36 opportunities to play with more competitors than your opponent and only successfully outplay them twice. That shouldn’t happen, and if the Rangers don’t start getting contributions from the power play against the Bruins, they’re going to be toast. The two teams are matched too evenly for New York to let opportunity after opportunity pass by the boards.
–We’ve all known David Krejci to be a very, very good hockey player for a long time now, but it’s still a little weird to see his face on NHL.com as the leader in points in the entire league this postseason.
It’s a testament to his skill and his ability to simply rise to a different level once the thermometer starts to top 70 degrees on a regular basis. After registering two assists on Sunday, Krejci now has 63 points in 68 career playoff games with a plus-25 rating. We learned in 2011 that he could be the best forward on a Cup-winning team, but in a league with Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton, Pavel Datsyuk and the like, it’s incredibly impressive to see Krejci as the centerman outpacing them all.
It’s surprising to see, too, in the sense that it’s been a somewhat subtle surge of dominance. Outside of his hat trick in Toronto, there hasn’t been much fanfare surrounding Krejci. It’s just been a steady, reliable contribution from the top-line center, who has failed to get on the score sheet just once this postseason and has posted multi-point games five times.
Patrice Bergeron, deservedly, gets a lot of credit in this town for being the best two-way center in hockey. Perhaps it’s time for Krejci to get his proper due.