Bruins

Kalman: Still Underrated Krejci Ready To Erupt Against Canadiens

By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
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Boston Bruins forward David Krejci. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Boston Bruins forward David Krejci. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Bruins center David Krejci was limited to two points, both assists, against the Detroit Red Wings in the five-game first-round series victory, which ended Saturday.

The last time Krejci faced the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs, the Bruins won in seven games in 2011, but he scored one goal and didn’t have any assists.

Boston will need more from its No. 1 center, and his linemates Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla, if the Bruins are going to defeat the Canadiens in the upcoming Eastern Conference second round series. Krejci, who’s quick to point out he’s gladly get shut out as long as the Bruins win, blamed his lack of points against the Red Wings to Detroit’s best players being able to hang onto the puck. He said by the second half of the series, things started to go his line’s way because they started to play with the puck more. Now it’s time to carry that momentum over to the second round.

“They [the Canadiens] obviously got some little guys, so they like to play with the puck. They play fast and shifty,” But I feel like, especially my line, I know we’re going to be the line that’s playing with the puck a lot. So it’s going to be up to them to stop us. We’re going to be trying to make something happen and I’m going to try to have the puck on my stick all the time. That’s going to be the difference between Detroit and this series.”

The Bruins can’t rely on Justin Florek, Jordan Caron and others to provide unexpected offense. They need plenty of points from their best skaters. Detroit coach Mike Babcock said it best in response to a question about Johan Franzen’s struggles during the first round. Babcock pointed out that the Red Wings had leaned on their younger players for a while and could continue to do so, but if Franzen didn’t pick up his play soon he was going to run out of time. The clock struck midnight for Franzen and the Red Wings.

Krejci knows time could tick away from him as well. He’s craving the challenge of facing his countryman, Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, and the defense pair of P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges, who gave Krejci, Lucic and Nathan Horton a hard time in 2011.

With some players, you might take Krejci’s words as wishful thinking. But he’s backed up his rhetoric in the past. After he had that one point against Montreal in 2011, he erupted for 22 points in the next 18 and led all playoff scorers with 23 points in 25 games. Last season, he got off to a fast start against the Toronto Maple Leafs and led all scorers in the postseason again with 26 points.

It’s amazing how despite those two amazing playoff seasons, Krejci is still underrated. Even on his own team, Krejci cedes much of the accolades to Patrice Bergeron, who’s credited as maybe the best two-way player in the NHL. It should be noted that Krejci had seven more points (69-62) than Bergeron while posting a plus-39 rating (one better than Bergeron). Although Krejci doesn’t match up against top lines every night, he at least squares off with No. 2 lines. And on the road, opposing coaches typically put their best out against Krejci’s line when the Bruins don’t have the second change.

Krejci might be less consistent on faceoffs and he doesn’t regularly kill penalties (although that’s just coach Claude Julien’s choice to save Krejci for the post-kill shift), but he’s blossomed into a two-way center that 29 other teams would gladly build around.

Maybe it suits Krejci better to fly under the radar because he’s able to take the playoffs by storm, especially when he gets off to a slow start. Krejci, though, can’t rely on taking the Canadiens by surprise. He’s been bumping heads with the Habs for all of his seven seasons and there are no secrets about his play, or really anyone on either side.

“I think it’s just about who’s going to do their homework a little bit better,” he said about the key to winning this series. “And then we’ve just got to trust the system and go out there and do the job. I think we have a pretty good team here and if we’ll do our homework right, then we should be able to get some results.”

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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