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David Krejci finds himself in Philly win

David Krejci [1] has had something of a charmed season in his second year with the Bruins.

The Hockey News recently recognized the certified puck magician as the “Best Hidden Gem” in the NHL [2] during the first half of the hockey season, but things had actually dropped off a bit for the budding 22-year-old playmaker heading in and out of January’s NHL [3] All-Star break.

The young center had managed just one goal, four assists and was dead-even on +/- over his last eight games heading into Wednesday night, but he busted out with a goal and an assist while racking up a +3 in Boston’s solid 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers [4]at the Wachovia Center [5] last night.

It’s been a period of adjustment for Krejci and linemates Blake Wheeler [6] and Michael Ryder [7] over the last month as the word is out on the talented threesome. Teams have grown to recognize just how dominant a puck possession force they are for the Black and Gold, and adjusted their game plans by oft-times sending their best checking lines/defensive units out on the ice against the explosive trio. That combined with teams ratcheting up the on-ice physical intensity had seemed to cause the unthinkable to happen: Krejci was actually being keyed on and contained by the balance of contenders in the Eastern Conference.

It would have been difficult to imagine earlier in the season, but the brightest of Boston’s young stars seemed to be getting lost in the shoving shuffle of February hockey in the NHL. The minor scuffle had some wondering whether the 5-foot-10, 177-pound was tiring through the rigors of an 82 game NHL season, or if the physical nature of late winter/early spring hockey was beginning to neutralize the Czech Republic playmaker’s ability to score and create with the puck on his stick.

Like any good player, though, the nifty, cerebral playmaker simply and obstinately kept at it and continued firing pucks at the net while searching for welcoming creases to sneak pucks through. Instead of seeking out the perfect play to snap himself out of his mini-funk, however, Krejci plunked himself into the high-traffic danger area in front of the net and forced the action. Krejci simply redirected a Shane Hnidy wrist shot speeding toward him, and ricocheted the biscuit past Flyers goaltender Martin Biron.

Who was the player that won the faceoff in the Philly zone and set up the goal by working the puck back to the waiting Hnidy? That would be the one-and-the same Krejci, who also fired off four shots during the game and won seven out of 12 faceoffs during an active evening against the rough and tumble Flyers.

Last night, things finally clicked in again following Krejci’s decision to simplify his game. He once again looked like the player that’s on an amazing pace to score 84 points this season — his second full season in the NHL after earning himself a job during the second half of last season — and perhaps all is once again well in the wonderful puck world of Krejci.