BOSTON (CBS) – The approaching NHL trade deadline brings back memories of trade deadlines past, when not that long ago people actually pondered the notion of the Bruins trading David Krejci.
Amazingly, most of those people are still allowed to riff on hockey. Some are paid well.
But they haven’t reaped the rewards of Krejci’s all-world like the Bruins have the past several seasons. And on the eve of the 2014 trade deadline, Krejci’s play again paid dividends again, as he recorded his first career hat trick in a 4-1 win against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on Tuesday night.
The Bruins, who are still trying to find their two-way game since the Olympic break, easily could’ve overlooked the Panthers, who only have the Buffalo Sabres between them and the Atlantic Division cellar.
Krejci and some of his teammates are still getting over jet lag, the trade deadline has everyone at least a little on edge and the Panthers were so busy making off-ice moves they almost forgot to play the game.
Nothing, however, deterred Krejci’s desire for two points. Nor did anything stop him from going for the hat trick with time winding down and Tim Thomas out of the Florida net for an extra attacker.
“I didn’t think I had another option and I also knew I had two goals already, so why not go for it, right?” said Krejci, who caused the attack of flying hats with a goal from the red line.
The Bruins always need Krejci to have that “why not go for it” attitude. Some games they need it more than others, and the Florida contest was played on one of those nights.
Too often in his career, even when he was en route to postseason scoring titles in 2011 and 2013, Krejci deferred to his linemates and teammates. Skating with a future Hall-of-Famer in Jarome Iginla and a premier power forward like Milan Lucic, Krejci could’ve continued this season to settle for life as a playmaker.
Instead, he’s now at 16 goals and on pace to surpass his career-high total of 23 from 2011-12.
“Just, I guess it comes with experience and when you feel comfortable on the ice,” Krejci said.
Over the years, getting Krejci to shoot more has been a Herculean task for Bruins coach Claude Julien. Krejci’s never going to be a puck hog, but some of the coaches coaxing is starting to sink in.
“You know, [Krejci] has always been a pass-first kind of guy, but he’s got a good shot,” Julien said. “I think his approach this year has been a little bit more about shooting, and you know, even being on the point on the power play, I’ve seen him, where times he would never shoot but this year he’s taking the shots when that shooting lane is there. So, you know, it’s probably more confidence in his shot, and he does have a good shot and it’s nice to see him use it.”
Krejci’s got a shot and a talent arsenal that the Bruins wouldn’t trade for just about anything. And that’s why they never moved him and instead went for a 1 and 1A scenario with Krejci and Patrice Bergeron as centers.
It’s paid off with the Bruins contending for championships every season. And that’s all that concerns Krejci, regardless of how many times he puts the puck in the net.
“Some people give me a hard time that I don’t have many goals,” he said. “But I don’t care, you know. As long as I contribute to my team and to my linemates and my teammates, who cares? The year we won the Stanley Cup and I had 13 goals. To that point, I don’t care anymore.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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