|Team meeting spurs David Krejci, Bruins to pick up slack for Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron||12.30.14 at 8:06 am ET|
Earlier in the year, it was up to Bergeron and Lucic to pick up the slack for Krejci and Zdeno Chara when they were out with injuries. This time around it was Krejci and Brad Marchand who led an offensive attack that generated five goals on 45 shots against the Red Wings, and the result was a desperately needed 5-2 win at TD Garden Monday night.
From the first puck-drop, the Bruins were skating hard in all three zones, mucking up the area in front of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. Krejci’s best move of the night came on the power play in the third period after the Wings had cut the lead to 3-2 after two.
The center skated into the left offensive corner with the puck and gave Seth Griffith enough time to find an open area in a triangle of three penalty-killing Wings. Krejci delivered a short, crisp pass onto Griffith’s stick and Griffith snapped off a perfect shot that beat Howard for a 4-2 lead.
“We just shot everything on the net,” Krejci said. “We tried to crash the net. That’s what happened on the first goal. [Marchand] had a good screen. I thought we had more than 15 shots after the first period. We talk about it, just put the puck on net, create some traffic and don’t pass on any shooting opportunities. We did a pretty good job at it.”
The big question is why the Bruins, with or without their top players, haven’t played like that more often.
“That’s a good question, but obviously we are trying,” Krejci said. “We kind of talked about a bunch of things [Sunday] and it seems like it worked but like I said before, we did it before and followed up with a bad game. We don’t need to have talks like we did before this game and just go out there and realize what you’re playing for and we got to get back in the hunt. It was a good game today, but we have to follow up with another one.”
|David Krejci thinks Bruins should prioritize first line, too||12.22.14 at 4:05 pm ET|
David Krejci might want to know who his right wing is as much as anyone else.
Claude Julien‘s hands are tied. Partially because of Krejci’s injuries, he waited too long to try Loui Eriksson with Krejci and Milan Lucic. Eriksson has undeniable chemistry with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly, but the Bruins haven’t given him a chance to develop chemistry with Lucic and Krejci. Given where they currently fall in the standings, the B’s might not think they can afford a games-long getting-to-know-you period if the B’s don’t win games in the process.
So that leaves Krejci, who thought he knew who he’d have for linemates after Jarome Iginla left, with four different right wings (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne, Craig Cunningham and, ever so briefly, Eriksson) in 14 games this season.
“Everything was – it looked like we were going to play with Loui from the beginning. If not, then someone else, so it was kind of a tough situation,” Krejci told WEEI.com Monday. “I was preparing myself the whole summer [as though] I would be playing with Loui. That was on my mind. Then some injuries and those guys play pretty well together right now with Carl and Kells as a line, so yeah.”
Added Krejci: “I’m happy that we’re winning, but I’d like to be putting some points up as well. That’s why I’m here. That’s why they re-signed me. It gets a little frustrating at times. You always play with somebody else, but I’m sure we’re going to find the right guy. If not, who knows what happens? There’s always trades, you know.”
On Sunday, Julien finally started Eriksson on Krejci’s right wing to open the game. The line had a so-so first period, but allowed a second-period goal and followed it up with a shift that saw Krejci give the puck away and Lucic mishandle the puck at the blue line. Krejci’s misplay led to a Sabres scoring chance; Lucic’s forced Dougie Hamilton to trip Tyler Ennis in the neutral zone and put the Bruins on the penalty kill.
Julien returned Eriksson to Soderberg’s line, with Kelly scoring on the trio’s first shift back together. Eriksson scored the game-winner in overtime on a feed from Lucic, but it was during a line change.
While Eriksson with Kelly and Soderberg has been Boston’s most consistent line this season, it isn’t like any of Boston’s forwards are having particularly good seasons. The Bruins are the only team in the league without a nine-goal scorer. They’re one of three teams (with the Sabres and Coyotes the other two) who haven’t seen a player reach 10 goals.
Part of the Bruins’ offensive problem has been that they’ve only had Krejci for 14 games, leading Julien to mix and match different lines and play Soderberg’s line against other team’s top forwards and defensemen. Krejci’s return allows the Soderberg line to go back to playing against bottom-six players and third-pairing defensemen, which makes their job easier.
In a perfect world, the Bruins shouldn’t need Eriksson to win those shifts, as Soderberg is probably a little better than a third-line player, while Kelly has been a solid third-liner for years.
The Bruins value secondary scoring, but having a good first line is more important. The Bruins are better off when Krejci is at his best, and Krejci’s at his best when he’s comfortable with his linemates rather than taking turns training potential candidates.
So maybe it’s Eriksson and maybe it’s somebody else, but teams don’t miss the playoffs because they don’t have great third lines; they do because they don’t have first lines. Krejci is eager for Boston’s to take shape.
|A closer look at whether Carl Soderberg’s line scores too much to be broken up||12.21.14 at 2:51 pm ET|
Claude Julien does not want to separate Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. That much we definitely, definitely know.
On Sunday, Julien reiterated that stance with a quote that got us thinking.
“Right now, the Soderberg line is the only one that’s scoring for us,” Julien said, “so do you guys want me to break that up and we get no more scoring? So you pick your poison.”
Krejci has been in the lineup for 13 games and has had Seth Griffith as his right wing for 12 of them, with Simon Gagne also getting some shifts and Eriksson getting a small taste late in Friday’s game. The Bruins might not be 100 percent on Griffith being their first-line right wing, but they won’t try Eriksson to see if they have any other internal fits for the job before potentially trading for one.
So, given Julien’s quote, we looked at every goal the Bruins have scored when Krejci has been in the lineup. In each game, Soderberg and Eriksson have been together, so it’s actually rather easy to tell whether Julien has a point. Keeping in mind that different lines (Krejci’s and Patrice Bergeron‘s) have tougher matchups, here were our findings:
Total goals (13 games): 35
Soderberg line: 9
Krejci line: 8
Bergeron line: 7
Campbell line: 1
Krejci during change with Kelly, Eriksson: 1
The findings aren’t overwhelming, but they do illustrate that when the Bruins have their full offensive lineup, the Soderberg line does pretty much all of Boston’s secondary scoring (nine of 10 goals). That might be reason enough for Julien to not want to tinker with Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson.
That said, the Bruins are 22nd in the league with 2.42 goals per game (2.69 with Krejci in the lineup). They need goals, and Eriksson had a four-point game against the Flyers last season when skating with Krejci and Lucic.
Following is a goal-by-goal breakdown, which also takes into consideration that Julien changed half of his lines on Oct. 30 against the Sabres but kept Griffith with Krejci while also keeping Eriksson with Soderberg. Read the rest of this entry »
|5 things we learned as Bruins get David Krejci back and win||12.17.14 at 10:47 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the Bruins got three things Bruins fans thought they might never see again: three goals, a win and David Krejci.
After an up-and-down showing from the B’s in Minnesota, Loui Eriksson took a feed from Carl Soderberg and tucked it behind Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom to give the Bruins a 3-2 overtime win over the Wild (click here for the boxscore). The win was Boston’s first in four games.
Krejci returned to the lineup after missing the last 11 games. He had one shot on goal and had a minus-13, even-strength Corsi, which was worst among Bruins forwards.
Krejci played a part in Minnesota’s game-tying goal in the third period. A turnover from Krejci in the defensive zone led to a Ryan Suter point shot that Niklas Svedberg stopped with his blocker. Zach Trotman picked up the rebound, but Jason Pominville whacked it away from Trotman and into the net to tie the game at two goals apiece.
That said, Krejci’s return is mammoth for the Bruins, who have had their first-line center for just 12 games this season and fell out of a playoff spot without him.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BRUINS STILL LIKE GRIFFITH WITH KREJCI
With Krejci returning to the top line, so too did Seth Griffith. The Bruins have played Griffith as their first-line right wing in every game Krejci has played this season, but they have generally used Griffith as a bottom-six player without Krejci.
It’s an odd choice on the Bruins’ part to not try other players with Krejci and Milan Lucic to determine how many potential in-house candidates the B’s have to fill their seemingly up-for-grabs first-line right wing job. The Bruins have still not tried Loui Eriksson with Krejci and Lucic this season.
The lines were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Cunningham
|Top to bottom: Bruins’ strange usage of Seth Griffith||12.15.14 at 4:29 pm ET|
When players get called up to the NHL, it’s typical for them to play in lesser roles before working their way up to higher lines. It’s been the opposite for Seth Griffith.
With only three goals through their first three games of the season, the Bruins recalled Griffith from Providence to play on their first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Griffith, a second-year pro, has been Krejci’s right wing in all 11 of Krejci’s games this season.
Yet Krejci, who may be nearing a return to the lineup, has missed a lot of time due to injury and the Bruins haven’t been as confident in Griffith as a first-line player when No. 46 hasn’t been centering him.
The last two games, Griffith has been on Boston’s fourth line in place of the absent Simon Gagne. Griffith, who scored as many as 45 goals in a season in his junior days, is not a prototypical fourth-line grinder. Prototypical or not, however, he’s a fourth-liner.
“For now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “We don’t have any extra forwards and we’d still like to be able to see our fourth line be able to bring some offense, so that’s why we put him there. That line was actually pretty good with Simon Gagne, and Simon Gagne’s been a top-line player his whole career.”
With all due respect to Julien, that line was not pretty good. The trio of Gregory Campbell between Daniel Paille and Gagne struggled in much of its time together, though it turned a corner on this month’s California trip.
Going from a top-line to a bottom line can be quite the adjustment. For one, you have to deal with playing fewer minutes. In most cases, you’re also working with less skilled players around you and opposing different types of players. Elite scorers who skate on top lines can be easier to oppose when you have the puck, as many top-liners are there mostly on offensive merit. The bottom-six is a working man’s game.
Guys like Brad Marchand in 2010-11 had to hone their craft in such roles before graduating to higher lines.
“I think it’s just going to help me,” Griffith said. “It’s my first year in the league. You look at this whole lineup; everybody plays hard. It’s not like it’s really a fourth-line role. You’re playing the same.
“You’re just trying to play hard every shift. If you want to be in this league a long time, you’ve got to learn to do little things like that. It’s just something that can help improve my game, if anything.”
The Bruins’ attempts at changing their fourth line from the Merlot Line days have been unsuccessful so far, and Griffith has been unsuccessful without Krejci so far. The 21-year-old has five points (three goals, two assists) when Krejci’s been in the lineup and two points (both goals) in 11 games without Krejci.
The Bruins have used Krejci on a couple different lines in practice over the last week, but Griffith hasn’t been a part of them. His return could either return Griffith to the first line or move him out of the lineup altogether (Craig Cunningham is more of a prototypical fourth-liner), but for now, Griffith will take whatever minutes he can get.
“Griff is a pretty smart player,” Julien said. “It’s not the same definition as what we had before – bang and crash and that kind of stuff – but that’s where he fits right now.”
|David Krejci to travel with Bruins, return date unknown||at 1:23 pm ET|
David Krejci will travel with the Bruins for their three-game road trip this week, Claude Julien said after Monday’s practice.
Julien did not indicate whether Krejci would play. The B’s have three games in the next four days beginning with Tuesday’s contest against the Predators.
“I hope so. I can’t guarantee that, though,” Julien said of Krejci playing. “I hope so.”
Krejci has missed the last 10 games and has been limited to just 11 games this season due to lower-body injuries. He skated on a four-man line with Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Craig Cunningham Monday.
The lines were as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Lucic – Kelly – Krejci – Cunningham
Paille – Campbell – Griffith
When Krejci has been in the lineup, he has been productive and the Bruins have been successful. Krejci has three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 11 games, with the B’s going 7-4-0. The Bruins have gone 8-9-2 when Krejci has not been in the lineup.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Zdeno Chara expected to return vs. Blackhawks, Bruins not counting on David Krejci||12.11.14 at 11:36 am ET|
Chara, who has not played since tearing his PCL on Oct. 23, left Thursday’s morning skate with the rest of the regulars, while Krejci stayed out extra with anticipated healthy scratches Joe Morrow and Matt Bartkowski.
Chara was taken off injured reserve Thursday, while Krejci remained on it as of early Thursday afternoon.
“Not officially, but I’m counting on [Chara],” Claude Julien said. “Krejci, nobody’s told me anything yet, so unless somebody tells me something after this morning skate, I’m not going to count on him. If they tell me he’s ready to go, then he’ll be in.”
Craig Cunningham was on the ice for Thursday’s skate after being recalled Wednesday. Assuming Krejci does not play, the Bruins will not have any extra forwards, meaning Cunningham would be in the lineup.
Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in morning skate, indicating he will start in goal against Chicago.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara