EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 27, 2010

Quiet Krejci makes loudest contribution

Bill Burt

BOSTON — It has haunted this franchise for at least a decade this time of the year.

Putting that darn biscuit in the basket.

Show me a Boston Bruins playoff series — as few as there have been been — and I'll show you a bus station full of slumping Boston Bruins goal scorers.

In fact, one of them, a talented young man named Joe Thornton, was eventually sent packing after his memorable seven scoreless playoff games in the 2003 NHL playoffs.

You have to be a real hockey fan to understand that the best Boston Bruin is David Krejci. The Czech Republic native plays on the power play. He kills penalties. He passes. He creates something out of nothing. And he sees the ice.

What probably makes him slide under the radar is he doesn't fight. You know how we love fighters.

When the Bruins needed somebody most last night, Krejci fought.

We basically had come to the conclusion this season, and especially this past week, that Buffalo's Ryan Miller was not an advantage. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who was 4-1 against the Sabres this past regular season, could go save for save with the best goalie in the world.

The issue was scoring.

Sure, you need the prerequisite rebound goals off scrums in front of a guy like Miller. But let's be honest. Those goals aren't going to cut it come May and, especially late May.

You need goal scorer's goals.

Last night, finally, enter Krejci.

Krejci is from a long line of disappointing Bruins this season. He signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract last June and then went in the proverbial tank.

He followed up his impressive pre-contract year in 2008-09 — 22 goals and 51 assists — with 17 goals and 35 assists this season.

He had company.

For a variety of reasons, Dennis Wideman, Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder, Marco Sturm and Marc Savard were equally as disappointing as Krejci.

And while some of those aforementioned Bruins had a nice clinching game last night, none was better than Krejci.

He scored the all-important first goal last night, a power play goal 13:39 from the right slot into the first period. It was all-important because the Bruins couldn't afford not to get a 1-0 lead.

On another power play only 61 seconds into the second period, Krejci, looking like he might shoot it, but instead hit Mark Recchi alone on the right side of the net for an easy goal and 2-0 lead.

Krejci's lasting mark on this game, though, was his second goal, adding to a 2-1 lead 7:18 into the third period. With Lucic doing what he does best, holding the puck behind the net, Krejci quietly went to the net and put Lucic's pass over Miller's left shoulder.

Both goals, and the pass to Recchi, looked so easy.

"That's what he does," said Recchi. "He got himself in great position on the second one and made a heck of a play to pass to me ... I had a wide open net."

A year ago, Krejci was right in the middle of the malaise against the Carolina Panthers, when the Bruins lost three straight games after an easy opening-game win.

Krejci was scoreless, getting off only five shots in those three drubbings.

Through the first five games of this series, Krejci had a goal and an assist. In other words, it was time for somebody to put the biscuit in the basket.

"I think everybody did a good job and everybody played our 'A' game," said Krejci, catching on to our American lingo. "We were battling for every little spot and every little inch on the ice. And we got a win."

Quite frankly, I don't know what to say.

Savard, the team's best offensive player, will probably be back for the next series. And now it appears that the slumping Lucic and Wideman aren't slumping any more.

Games like last night, particularly from the 23-year-old Krejci, when scoring looked a tad easier than it has in a long time, really make you wonder about the Bruins' immediate future.

Who was it that said, "Anything's possible!"

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.