Krejci Leads Train, Earns 'Player of the Game'
BOSTON, MA - As David Krejci walked up to the postgame press conference podium following the Bruins' 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Wednesday, he was outfitted in a military Army Rangers jacket.
The new Bruins' "Player of the Game" jacket, as it turns out, that rewards a member of the Black & Gold, while showing support for Army Rangers.
"They live by a slogan, 'Rangers Lead the Way'," said Andrew Ference, on the meaning of the jacket, a specialized Bruins' one given to him by the Army Rangers, with customized Bruins and Rangers logos. "So I think it's fitting to give this to a player that led the way for us in a game. A lot less important than what [the Rangers] are doing, but for us, it's important to have guys step up. So they get to wear this for the night."
It was fitting for Krejci, who recorded his 13th career multipoint playoff game, with a goal and two assists. His second-period goal that gave the B's a two-goal cushion marked the 21st of the postseason career.
"He’s a game changer," said teammate Johnny Boychuk, who received a Krejci drop-pass just over five minutes after the center's own goal, and blasted a rocket past James Reimer to make it 4-1.
"When he’s going, that line’s going. It’s not just one guy in here. It’s the whole team, and I think everybody did a good job on stepping up, and tonight was his night to create that space. Tomorrow could be another guy. It was a great job by him."
Krejci has put up 47 points in 59 career playoff games, including 20 goals and 27 assists. he put together a 12-11=23 stat line in 25 games during the 2011 run.
"I think his playoff stats get overlooked a little bit, especially because he led the whole playoffs in goals and points in 2011," said Milan Lucic, on his center's often underrated ability to be a key factor on the B's.
"And I think I saw on TV after the game that he has 50 points in 60 playoff games, which is pretty impressive for a guy like him. So, I’m just fortunate that I get an opportunity to play with him and like he said in his interview, we just got to do whatever we can to keep it going."
The Bruins may have fallen down early in the game, but their experience proved instrumental in not letting themselves hit the panic button. This team has talked much about how the playoffs have taught them to remain even-keeled from game to game, period to period, and even shift to shift.
Boston's four unanswered goals began with the veteran Wade Redden, and then Krejci factored into each of the final three. Late in the first, Krejci gained the zone and fed Nathan Horton a drop pass that the right winger then left for Redden and went directly to the front of the net to redirect the defenseman's shot in behind Reimer. It was reviewed for a high stick, but the goal stood, and so did No. 46's first point of the 2013 playoffs.
Then, 10:25 into the second, Krejci drove hard into the zone and centered a pass that ended up in traffic. Once his left winger Lucic tried to settle it, the centerman found the loose puck and put it through Reimer's five-hole off a low, turnaround shot. Soon after, Boychuk's rocket iced it.
"When David is skating, he’s also, I would say, pretty intense, meaning he’s not afraid to go finish his hits and not afraid to go into the corner and battle for pucks," said Coach Julien of the center.
"He’s one of those players that fears nothing, he never has. In other words, when he really gets his mindset to compete hard and get involved, he’s a really great player. He’s been pretty good lately, not just tonight, but before that, so I felt that his game was turning the corner as well, getting better."
"He proved that again tonight."
Krejci led all forwards with 19:03 of ice time, and put up the three-point night with a plus-2 rating, but the final stat sheet doesn't necessarily demonstrate the full effect of his presence on the ice Wednesday night in the Game 1 win.
"He’s obviously one of the better players in the league, and he was First Star tonight," said Boychuk. "He deserved it."
Offense hasn't been that easy to come by for the Bruins. Though the B's all preach the start of the new season, it was no secret that burying their chances was a challenge in the regular season. They certainly created the chances Wednesday night, with a strong forechecking game that allowed them to put up 40 shots on goal, to the Leafs's 20.
The 4-1 win marked the largest playoff goal differential for the B's since their 4-0 win over Vancouver on June 15, 2011.
"We just try to go out there and play are best. I think we had a lot of chances today, and when you have lots of chances you have to make sure you bury them," said Krejci. "Today we did that in the first two periods, we didn’t get them all in the third period, but a win is a win, and we’re pretty happy with the outcome."
The playoff style of hockey seems to bring out the best in Krejci's line, a relentless trio flanked by the two strong power forwards, which combined for two goals on six shots and landed seven of the B's 30 hits in Game 1.
"I’m just trying to go out there, do my best and help the team to win games," said Krejci. "As a line, I think we did a good job today. We put the puck in the net. But in the playoffs, there’s always somebody new to be a hero, so today I feel like we had a good game, but if we want to make a good run, we know that we’re going to need all four lines."
"Playoffs are so different than in-season. You’re trying to build something, and I feel like we built something in the first game. We have to carry it on into the second, but we know that Toronto is going to be even better on Saturday, so we have to bring our ‘A’ game again."