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Krejci and Lucic: Freshmen Making the Grade

Wednesday, 10.03.2007 / 9:17 AM / Features
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Krejci and Lucic: Freshmen Making the Grade
Boston Bruins' David Krejci (46), of the Czech Republic, scores on New York Islanders' Rick DiPietro (39) in the first period of a preseason hockey game. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Boston, MA --
After the final preseason game versus the New York Islanders, rookie forward David Krejci was asked about his game and the goal that kept the Bruins in the contest.

"Yah, it felt good," said Krejci, quietly, and with an unconvincing frown. "It didn't help."

Actually, it did, and so did his preseason stats that showed the up-and-coming center to be tied for the team lead with four points in five games. He also had a 1-3-4 line, a plus two rating and, by the way, he scored his one goal on only three shots -- not a bad percentage.

Yesterday, across the room from Krejci, the Czech born forward, Vancouver, British Columbia native and power forward Milan Lucic, who also had an excellent training camp, sat in his stall. Questioned about how he celebrated his making the roster, Lucic explained that any excitement had to wait, and was almost bittersweet -- others were not so lucky.

"I was with (Jeff) Hoggan when we found out," said Lucic.

Hoggan, of course, was sent through waivers on his way to Providence.

"I had to keep it down for a bit until I went to the hotel," he said. "I treated Jeff to dinner and once I got back to the hotel I made a bunch of phone calls."

Obviously, everyone he called was excited for Milan. But could they have been really surprised?

Like Krejci, who starred in last year's AHL playoffs with the P-Bruins, Lucic was on everyone's radar as soon as he earned MVP honors in last spring's Memorial Cup for the Vancouver Giants. You see, after excelling at the B's development camp and having terrific preseasons, making the team was just icing on the cake for the two talented young men.

"First of all they earned that," said new Bruins head coach Claude Julien of the pair making the grade. "They did it through hard work and determination.

"Krejci had a great year last year in Providence and, from what I was told, was probably one of their best players in the playoffs."

Lucic, who won several on-ice bouts during the exhibition season, may have as many as nine regular season games to prove that a trip back to juniors is unnecessary -- after nine games Milan may be returned to junior hockey without losing a year on his contract and Providence is not an option because of his age.

"I think that is a luxury and a privilege that we have with the junior players and you know he's earned his way onto this team that way," said Julien. "We have to take a real close look at him because we only have the nine games and then we have to make a decision.

Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic (62) sends Toronto Maple Leafs' Darryl Boyce to the ice during the second period of a NHL preseason hockey game. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
"He's shown us enough so that he deserves to stay here right now, and I guess the big decision will come once those nine games are played.

"(But) in Lucic's case, he's shown us enough to show that he deserves a longer look," he said.

Krejci just stole the show. He has shown he belongs in the NHL.

"I like his game, he's a very smart player," said Julien, who added, "He's a very poised player.

"For me, he just kept getting better and better as camp went on."

As the Bruins enter the regular season, they hope that trend continues.

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