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Bruins trying out center-heavy Spooner-Krejci-Backes line 10.04.16 at 12:08 pm ET
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David Krejci

David Krejci

BRIGHTON — For the second straight day, the Bruins iced a line consisting of David Krejci between Ryan Spooner and David Backes in practice at Warrior Ice Arena. By the looks of it (and by what Claude Julien essentially confirmed), it figures to be a line used in Tuesday night’s exhibition against the Canadiens when Krejci makes his return from hip surgery.

Considering there are only three preseason games left, the idea that the B’s would use that line at this point suggests they’re actually taking it seriously. The Bruins figured to be loaded at center after signing Backes, but three centers on one line?

“Obviously it’s something new,” Krejci said. “New linemates, but I’m pretty excited. We have three centermen. If I’m having a tough time on the draw, those two other guys can step in. Spoons is a lefty, so he can take some draws as well. I’m really excited. I’ve known Spoons for a long time. Backes, I’ve played against him for a really long time, so I know him as well. I know what he can do; hopefully we can click right away and who knows? Maybe stick together for some time.”

Though he didn’t fully admit it, it’s entirely possible that Julien got the idea for such a line while coaching at the World Cup of Hockey, where Team Canada had only two actual wingers (Brad Marchand and Corey Perry) on its roster. The rest of the forwards were centers, meaning every line was loaded with multiple pivots. Canada’s first line had three-time Selke-winning center Patrice Bergeron playing right wing.

“We had a lot of centers playing wing,” Julien said. “It was great for faceoffs; one gets kicked out, the other goes in. They adapted well; it just gave us more flexibility. It’s hard to replace a center; it’s much easier to replace a winger.”

“We’ve got the opportunity to see what it’s going to give us tonight,” Julien said. “We want to see different things and see where it goes. It just makes our decisions a lot easier when we’ve had the chance see it vs. wondering what if we would have done this or that. We’re trying everything right now. For sure, by the start of the season we’ll certainly have a much clearer picture. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be set in stone, but at least we’ll have some options.”

If the Bruins were to use such a line in the regular season, they’d still easily have the centers to fill out the rest of their lineup. Dominic Moore figures to center the fourth line, while Austin Czarnik’s strong training camp could make him a candidate to center the third line.

If that second part sounds like a stretch, look no further than another line that was used Tuesday morning: Beleskey-Czarnik-Hayes.

Boston’s lines Tuesday morning were as follows:

Spooner-Krejci-Backes
Beleskey-Czarnik-Hayes
DeBrusk-Schaller-Randell
Moore-Nash-Pastrnak

Read More: David Backes, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner,
David Krejci, Torey Krug not ready for contact as training camp begins for Bruins 09.22.16 at 2:46 pm ET
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David Krejci

David Krejci

BRIGHTON — The Bruins kicked off training camp Thursday with fitness testing, and they’ll take the ice for the first official practices of the season Friday.

Don Sweeney said there were no major surprises in the testing, with no two names drawing more attention than David Krejci and Torey Krug. The players are coming off offseason surgeries for hip and shoulder injuries, respectively, and both players will practice Friday in a limited capacity.

Both Krejci and Krug said they intend to have no limits skating-wise, but intimated they will not take contact yet. Sweeney said the players will be on a “modified contact” plan in the early going of camp as they look to be ready for the Oct. 13 season-opener. Krejci said his plan is to play at least a couple preseason games.

Zach Senyshyn, who has been skating in recent days after an appendectomy on Sept. 4, will also practice with the team. Zac Rinaldo is nursing an injury, according to Sweeney, and will not practice in the earlygoing of camp. Suspended at the NHL level, Rinaldo will be allowed to play in preseason games.

Read More: David Krejci, Torey Krug, Zac Rinaldo, Zach Senyshyn
David Krejci drops out of World Cup of Hockey 09.02.16 at 4:23 pm ET
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According to Czech television reporter Zdenek Matejovsky, David Krejci has dropped out of the World Cup of Hockey.

Krejci, who has skated this week at Warrior Ice Arena with teammates, is coming off April hip surgery. He said Monday that he was in touch with the Czech team weekly and that the team was aware that he might not play.

“If you asked me a long time ago, then yes, but right now I just want to get to 100 percent,” Krejci said Monday. “If I’m ready, then that will be awesome, but if not, you have to do what you have to do to be 100 percent.”

Krejci expects to be ready for the start of the NHL season.

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David Krejci might miss World Cup of Hockey, Torey Krug aims to be ready for season 08.29.16 at 7:04 pm ET
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David Krejci

David Krejci

Both David Krejci and Torey Krug intend to be ready for the start of the regular season after offseason surgery. That’s better news for the Bruins than it is for, say, the Czech national team.

Krejci, who had surgery for a right hip impingement in April, has not officially bailed on the World Cup of Hockey, but his participation does not seem likely. After skating with five teammates at Warrior Ice Arena Monday, the veteran center said that he has been in touch with the national team weekly and that they’re not banking on him being there.

“If you asked me a long time ago, then yes, but right now I just want to get to 100 percent,” Krejci said of whether he’ll play in the tournament. “If I’m ready, then that will be awesome, but if not, you have to do what you have to do to be 100 percent.”

Added Krejci: “I’m in contact with the national team coach and we talk pretty much every week. They’re asking about my update, and we kind of know what’s going on. I’m sure they have some backup plan if it’s not going to work out, but we’ll see what happens.”

The sides plan to talk again later in the week, with Krejci saying the team hasn’t given him a date by which he must decide.

Krejci got back on the ice Aug. 17 and has worked his way up from doing light circles to more intensive skating. He wasn’t on the ice particularly long Monday (no longer than 20 minutes), but he noted that this week will consist of ramping up the volume of time spent on the ice.

As for Krug, the 25-year-old says that he is medically on track after having right shoulder surgery. After skating with teammates Monday, he noted that he is not yet taking one-timers.

“I’m trying to avoid doing too many crazy things out there,” Krug said. “[I’ll] take it slow and day-by-day. We still have plenty of time until camp, so as it ramps up here I’ll probably do that individually as well.”

Krug said that he “knew for a while” during the season that he was going to need the surgery he eventually received, even though he played in 81 of Boston’s 82 games. The defenseman said that the torn labrum bugged him at various points of the season.

Despite being hampered by the injury, Krug put up a career-best 44 points last season.

Read More: David Krejci, Torey Krug,
David Krejci doesn’t really care about Jimmy Vesey, but he misses Loui Eriksson at 1:28 pm ET
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David Krejci

David Krejci

BRIGHTON — Don Sweeney’s sales pitch to Jimmy Vesey was built around being David Krejci’s left wing. Vesey passed, but it doesn’t seem Krejci’s losing sleep over it.

“I’m not really disappointed with that guy,” Krejci said Monday of the Rangers rookie. “Obviously I heard he’s a good player, but he has to prove himself on the NHL level. I was more disappointed we weren’t able to keep Loui.”

Loui is, of course, Loui Eriksson, and Krejci had thoughts on that, too. The Bruins declined to give the 31-year-old Eriksson the $6 million cap hit over six years he got from the Canucks, but they signed 32-year-old David Backes to a five-year deal worth the same annually.

Though the Bruins prefer Backes’ character and toughness, Eriksson is the better player at this point and figures to age better. Furthermore, saying goodbye to Eriksson meant once again taking away one of Krejci’s trusted wings in what’s become an annual occurrence; Krejci has also seen the departures of linemates Nathan Horton (2013), Jerome Iginla (2014) and Milan Lucic (2015) in recent seasons.

“I felt like we had some good chemistry going, so that was kind of a tough time to see [Eriksson] go, but I’ve gotten kind of used to seeing my favorite guys going away — Milan, Nathan, Iggy,” Krejci said. “I’m going to have to just play my game and try to find chemistry with whoever’s going to be on my line.”

Regardless of how Krejci’s dealing with Vesey’s decision, the truth is that the former Harvard captain would have been a good get for both the Bruins and Krejci, something Krejci himself admitted. With Brad Marchand a good bet to stay in Boston long-term, Vesey could have held down Boston’s second-line left wing job for years alongside Krejci if the two were to click. With David Pastrnak still emerging, the Bruins would have had the makings of a very strong line going forward.

Asked for clarification on his words about Vesey, Krejci said that he understood the hullabaloo that surrounded the player, especially considering the timing of his sweepstakes.

“Mostly in the summer there isn’t much that people talk about; this was kind of on top of the list for people to talk about,” Krejci said. “Obviously there was a little pressure on him, but he brought it on himself, I guess.”

Read More: David Krejci, Jimmy Vesey, Loui Eriksson,
Bruins told Jimmy Vesey he would likely play with David Krejci 08.19.16 at 9:53 pm ET
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Jimmy Vesey chose to sign with the Rangers Friday. (Getty Images)

Jimmy Vesey chose to sign with the Rangers Friday. (Getty Images)

Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said on a conference call Friday night that the team did not make any promise of a top-six role before agreeing to terms with free agent left wing Jimmy Vesey.

“I never got the feeling that he was looking for any kind of promise,” Gorton said. “I think that he’s a pretty proud guy and I think he’s very confident in his abilities.”

Well, Vesey did have a promise of such a role from the Predators before he elected free agency and he had at least one more when he met with teams this week.

According to a source present at Wednesday’s meeting at Warrior Ice Arena, the Bruins told Vesey that he would be used as a top-six forward, most likely lining up to the left of David Krejci on Boston’s second line. Krejci was among the Bruins players present for Wednesday’s meeting, which lasted two and a half hours.

Vesey turned down the Bruins and six other teams — the Sabres, Blackhawks, Islanders, Penguins, Leafs and Devils — by electing to sign a two-year deal with the Rangers on Friday.

Read More: David Krejci, Jimmy Vesey,
David Backes discusses Bruins contract length, fit with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner 07.01.16 at 5:23 pm ET
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David Backes feels he'll hold up over the length of his five-year deal. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Backes feels he’ll hold up over the length of his five-year deal. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The best question on David Backes’ introductory conference call was asked by himself.

Or, at least, it was a question he recalled asking the Bruins as they went about trying to sign the former Blues captain.

“Through the process I was asking questions and didn’t want to pull myself out of being part of the Bruins, but I said, ‘You’ve got Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who are top-tier center-icemen and are both right-handed,’” Backes said. “’You’re going to bring me in as another right-handed center men. Your top three center men are all going to be right-handed. How’s that going to work?’”

The elephant in the room that follows Backes’ signing is that someone’s either got to go or be used differently. Ryan Spooner is the Bruins’ sole left-shot center, so could Krejci be traded? Could Backes be moved to wing? Backes said that his talks with the B’s prior to signing focused “mostly” on him playing center, but he allowed for the possibility of playing right wing, as he did during the postseason for the Blues.

“If a guy like Spooner can play the third-line center and I move up to the right side with [Brad] Marchand and Bergeron, that gives us a heavy, responsible line that can put a lot of pucks in the net,” Backes said.

“If you want to call me third-line, I completely respect that,” Backes said. “Those two other guys are awesome, but I’ve got to imagine that we’re going to share a lot of responsibility and not burden one guy with all the hard ice or the heavy lifting. When you have responsible guys that can share those roles, then we can all flourish on the other side of the ice and have tons of energy to go out for the ends of games to close it out or score a late big goal.”

The number of right-shot centers presents something of a redundancy. The length of his contract, however, is what is most worrisome. Backes has stayed healthy throughout his career, but one has to wonder who he will hold up in the final two years of his deal.

“I’m 32; I’m not 52,” Backes said. “I think there’s plenty of legs and plenty of physicality and energy left in me. The terms that I’ve come to, people may have questions, but for me, I expect to still be at the top of my game for the last year and still be a contributing member for the Boston Bruins.”

Added Backes: “I don’t think the game’s getting slower. It’s a fast game, but if you start to manage the puck in the right way, you can occupy the offensive zone and do a lot of the things that teams that are heavy and control the puck and occupy the zone do, it’s not a track meet up and down the ice. With Pittsburgh winning the Cup, a team that was kind of designed on that track meet, ‘let’s go, let’s see who can skate the fastest up the ice,’ there may be a trend or a tendency to try to start to build teams like that, but you’ve also seen teams in the LA Kings and the Boston Bruins win playing that heavy game and maybe not having the fastest team, but winning every battle that you get into, being able to control the puck once you get it.”

Read More: David Backes, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner
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