Until a tough first round last year, David Krejci had always performed in the playoffs. In his very first postseason back in 2008, he had five points in seven games. He had eight in 11 in 2009, then eight in nine in 2010. During the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run in 2011, he led the team with 12 goals and 23 points in 25 games. On the international scene, he had two and an assist in five Olympic games for the Czech Republic in 2010.
Wednesday night, in the first game of a first-round series against division rival Toronto, Krejci led the black and gold to a crucial victory, netting a goal and two assists along the way. Reunited with usual linemates Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, Krejci played the perfect two-way game in an impressive opener for the Bruins.
In order to go on any Cup run, the Bruins need the most out of Krejci game in and game out. The track record is there, and if he lives up to his previous spotlight success the team could certainly be playing into the summer. As cliché as it may be, the consistency is needed in this brand new hockey season.
“Its about what’s out there on the ice, and what’s going to show up,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien pregame. “You can have all the experience in the world, but if you don’t show up and play your game the way you should, you’re not going to win.”
Game 2 didn’t start as well for the Bruins, who spent a majority of the time in their own zone besides a few good shifts from Patrice Bergeron’s line. Krejci, looking to build off his Game 1 heroics, went 4-for-8 in the faceoff dot as the Bruins were outshot 12-10 in the period. It wasn’t the best start, but the game remained scoreless after one.
Just 1:56 into the second period, Krejci and his linemates finally broke through and put the Bruins on top 1-0. Krejci made a terrific pass in the neutral zone to spring Lucic, who ripped a slap shot on net. Horton, who drove middle, had the rebound bounce off his skate and past James Reimer for the goal. The play went under review but was quickly ruled a good goal.
“It was kind of a broken play,” said Krejci postgame. “I saw that their defense kind of made a little mistake on the blue line, and [Horton and Lucic] got behind their defense. So I just tried to lay the puck there, and they did the rest.”
The line’s size, speed and skill came together in scoring the game’s first goal, a fundamental effort the Bruins love seeing from their top trio. They scored two goals in Game 1 of the series and looked to be finding their game at the perfect time, much to the delight of black and gold nation.
After that first Bruins goal, most of the game went Toronto’s way. They applied pressure and exploited defensive breakdowns, accounting for three straight goals. The Krejci line, while contributing offensively, must improve their defensive zone coverage, as extended shifts in their own end handed Toronto needed momentum a number of times.
Although Saturday’s loss hung mostly on defensive lapses, and although it’s hard to criticize the Bruins’ first line — which netted one of Boston’s two goals — there’s still room for improvement. Consistency is key to any aspect of life, and from one end of the rink to the other, the Bruins’ top trio needs to perform at a high level and be a tone-setter for the rest of their teammates.
In his postgame presser, Julien spoke of the team’s disappointing effort in Game 2.
“We have to be better defensively in order to be better offensively. I said that last time. Our team, when it’s good defensively, it creates chances offensively. We turn pucks over and we go on the attack. But tonight, not quite as good as we were in Game 1.”
Julien’s analysis is spot on, as the Bruins absolutely perform their best when transitioning the puck well. Forwards helping out defensemen and executing clean breakouts is huge for this team, and is vital for future playoff success.
Krejci and the Bruins will have a tough task on hand Monday night, when they visit the Leafs for Toronto’s first home playoff game since 2004.
Fasten your seatbelts.