Did you see Boston Bruins center David Krejci last night?
No, I'm not talking about the guy who finally lit up the Boston Bruins portion of the boxscore last night - three goals and his initial pass led to a fourth goal (Milan Lucic).
I'm talking about the guy who fought for his space on the faceoff circle. I'm talking about the guy that won the majority of 50-50 opportunities along the boards. I'm talking about the most talented Bruin who has been baseball's version of J.D. Drew in terms of disappointing..
True, the Bruins lost the potential series clinching game last night, 5-4, last in Tampa Bay, but they may have won a legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Krejci's performance, albeit in a loss, gives the Bruins hope against any opponent, including the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night at the TD Garden.
Let's be honest, this time of year you need a special player to score that special goal. Last night, Krejci scored three of them.
It wasn't enough to beat the Lightning and their three power play goals, but it was enough to change the landscape of the Bruins expectations.
The Bruins have been playing with fire the last month or so. Goalie Tim Thomas and center Patrice Bergeron have shared the honors of co-MVP of this unexpected Bruins month-long run.
Prior to last night the Krejci had gone without a goal or an assist in half of the 16 Bruins playoff games.
The Bruins lost five of those games, scoring only a combined seven goals.
Krejci got some help on his line last night, particularly from Milan Lucic, who it could be argued has been even more inconsistent than Krejci. In fact, Lucic hadn't tallied a goal or an assist in those five losses. Last night he had a goal and an assist.
But Krejci can do things with the puck no other Bruin can do, including the inexperienced 19-year-old Tyler Seguin - maybe next year. Basically, he can put it in an area of the net few if any Bruins would even dare try to put it.
When he is going right, like last night, there is a grace to his game that few can emulate. He sees things on the ice others don't see. His soft hands allow him to deftly direct a pass or shot even if it's five inches off the ice. And, most impressive of all, he uses little energy doing it.
The Bruins are going to a Game 7 tomorrow night with a chance they haven't had in a long, long time. They have a chance to play for a Stanley Cup.
And despite the warts - see the Bruins power play, which finally scored a goal in the third period - Krejci is good enough, on most nights to overcome them.
It won't be easy tomorrow night. Tampa is tough and has twice as much skill as the Bruins. But with Krejci playing at or near his ability, the Bruins have the most talented player in this series and the chances of playing for and winning a Stanley Cup haven't been this good in, say, 29 years.