By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, David Krejci was the team’s and the NHL’s leading playoff scorer. When the Bruins marched to Game 6 of the Cup Final two years later, Krejci once again led the team and the league in points.
Thriving in the postseason is nothing new for Krejci, and the 34-year-old Czech is in the midst of one of his best playoff stretches ever.
For someone with Krejci’s playoff resume, that’s really saying something.
Krejci extended his playoff point streak to six games, matching a career-best, when he found himself in the right place at the right time to score the Bruins’ first goal of the night in their clinching Game 5 vs. Carolina on Wednesday.
Camped out in front of the net on the power play, Krejci corralled a Patrice Bergeron shot that had bounced off David Pastrnak.
After scoring his third goal and collecting his eighth point in the past six games, Krejci couldn’t help but laugh at his good fortune.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 19, 2020
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was not behind the bench in ’11 and ’13, but he has been at the helm for both of Krejci’s six-game playoff point streaks — last year vs. Columbus and Carolina, and this year vs. Washington and Carolina.
“Well I’ve learned that he’s a big-time player. I’ve seen it in the playoffs now every year I’ve been here,” said Cassidy, who’s in his fourth postseason as the Bruins’ coach. “He’s a real competitor, good team guy, well-liked in the room, quiet, I think a good hockey mind. You can always talk to him about the game and get good responses and good dialogue and a guy that loves the game. He just doesn’t show it maybe like some other people would because he is kind of more of a composed guy that way, but certainly one of the more fierce competitors in terms of inner drive that I’ve been around here.”
One game in Krejci’s current streak wasn’t really a playoff game by Stanley Cup Playoff standards, but the NHL did determine that the stats accumulated in the round-robin games would count as playoff stats. Regardless, the Bruins’ play in the real playoffs was worlds apart from the lackadaisical approach in those round-robin games, and with David Pastrnak missing most of the series, Krejci’s individual play was a key driver in that.
“Obviously, we all love playoff Krech. He’s unbelievable,” Pastrnak said.
Krejci scored that goal on the power play, keeping his spot on the top group after filling in for Pastrnak during his absence. With the NHL’s leading goal scorer working to get his rhythm back after missing three games to injury, Krejci remained with the top unit — and the puck just happened to bounce off Pastrnak’s leg before going to Krejci’s stick.
“So much experience and his hockey patience is incredible. The power play is just, I can’t even tell how good of a player he is,” Pastrnak said of his countryman. “He always seems like he makes a great play. Just when you think he’s going to lose it, he always finds a way to recover and make a great play. Great power play. … We scored some big goals and obviously Krech was a big key on the power play.”
Cassidy explained why he kept Krejci with the top group, a decision which obviously paid off.
“Well he’s playing really well, really motivated, making good plays,” Cassidy said. “I mean we had a pretty good power play as it is the other way, but this is a way to get Krech more involved and then with Pasta not having a lot of reps I think you saw the puck move around to the other side a little bit more because those guys are more into the game flow of things. … So that was the reasoning behind the power play, those guys were all amenable to being in one group and it worked out for us.”
Krejci’s mostly known for his work with the puck on his stick, but in this clinching scenario, he also made a play to step in front of some rubber, an effort which might have saved a goal in the first period.
David Krejci lays out to block a wide open net pic.twitter.com/zR10mGilXm
— Tucker Boynton (@Tucker_TnL) August 19, 2020
In the five-game series win over the Canes, Krejci scored three goals and had five assists. In the clinching win, he was involved with both of Boston’s goals. In Game 3, he assisted on the first goal and made a rather spectacular play to allow Brad Marchand to end the game with an empty netter. In Game 4, with some picture-perfect passing, he started a tic-tac-toe sequence that resulted in what stood as the game-winning goal.
With Pastrnak injured and Tuukka Rask back home, the Bruins buzzed through Carolina with their shortest first-round playoff series win since 2014. Krejci was a key reason why, and the Bruins have to like their chances of keeping the ride going so long as “Playoff Krech” sticks around.