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Kalman: Whether Krejci’s Really Back Or Just Teasing Will Determine Bruins’ Fate

By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston

Showing up is 80 percent of life, Woody Allen once said.

That philosophy might apply to the vast majority of us common folks, but center David Krejci found out the hard way during the first three months of this season that showing up is just a small part of his role with the Bruins.

Sure, Krejci was cleared to play during training camp and hasn’t missed any of the Bruins’ 38 games this season after undergoing hip surgery April 25. But the Bruins needed more from Krejci, who’s their highest-paid player, than just pulling on the sweater and skating around every night. Too often, his play was pedestrian.

But Krejci has been doing more than showing up lately. He had one goal and one assist in the 4-2 comeback win at Buffalo on Thursday and he has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak.

“I’m feeling pretty good now, not just because the points are there but just the way I feel, my skating,” Krejci said after practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday. “So yeah I’m just happy where I am right now and hopefully I can keep it going.”

We won’t know for a while whether Krejci will keep things going and be the player who averaged 0.88 points per game last season. Krejci has provided several hints at glory over the course of this season, only to drop back to playing like a shadow of his former self. This season he has eight goals and 16 assists, an average of 0.63 points per game — .03 fewer points per game than he had during his injury-riddled 2014-15 season.

Sure, Bruins No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron has had his struggles scoring, with 11 points in 35 games. But for most of this season his wings have been Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, currently No. 1 and 2, respectively, on the Bruins in points. Torey Krug has one goal, David Backes hasn’t produced quite at the pace the Bruins hoped when they signed him July 1, and Ryan Spooner has only recently begun to show he might be able to put the puck in the net a little bit as a second-line left wing. But when you’ve got the salary and the resume of Krejci, you’re going to be the focal point when you’re not scoring close to the pace you did in your best seasons and the Bruins are 23rd in the NHL in scoring.

Krejci said Friday he doesn’t take it personally that the Bruins have seemingly been allergic to offense this season. He looks at it as a team-wide problem. Krejci deserves some benefit of the doubt because he’s had to use games to work back into form after major surgery. The Bruins couldn’t afford to sit him, even with the World Cup condensing the schedule. More often than not Krejci, even at 50 percent or wherever he was, was better than the lineup alternatives for the Bruins.

“When a guy’s trying to find his game, keep playing him,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “The guy’s a good player. It takes game where you might’ve sat him out yet he has a great game. You never know when that’s going to happen.”

As he showed in Buffalo and in Columbus on Tuesday, when the Bruins lost but rallied from 3-0 down to tie the game, Krejci’s finally finding his game. Krejci is putting up his own numbers and helping those around him improve, including setting up Spooner for the game-winner against the Sabres, helping Backes get more points and clicking with Frank Vatrano, who had to fill in after Backes was injured against the Sabres.

The Bruins have been a one-line team, with occasional goals from Dominic Moore, too many times this season. The Bruins want to be balanced but it doesn’t matter what Moore or Austin Czarnik or Riley Nash do offensively if Krejci isn’t producing and making his line into a second No. 1 line.

Krejci believes he’s on track to consistently be that player this season.

“When you come back from an injury like that, you feel good enough after a few months that you feel like you’re ready to go,” he said. “But then you’re finding that every week is even getting better. It’s a long recovery, so you kind of forget what actually 100 percent feels like. So I feel like I’m pretty much there, so I’m feeling good.”

Now 30, Krejci is trying to buck the trend and duplicate his production from his 20s into his fourth decade. And he’s trying to do it after having a second hip repaired. The difference between the Bruins with an outstanding Krejci for this season and a few more or a mediocre Krejci who can’t live up to his contract and depletes the Bruins’ depth down the middle is stark. Krejci’s attempt to build off his past few games could be a turning point in his stint in Boston.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.

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