March 2, 2012

After trying slump, Krejci hopes to build off hat trick

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON -- Prior to a mild snow storm that swept through the region this week, New Englanders had all but avoided the dreaded, dreary dead of winter. Their hometown hockey team, however, hasn’t been so blessed. 

After steamrolling over their opponents on a nightly basis throughout the months of November and December, the Bruins came crashing back down to earth in early January. Since defeating the Jets on Jan. 10 and the Canadiens two nights later, Boston has failed to string together back-to-back wins.

While those looking to assign blame could point their fingers in a multitude of directions, the man considered the club’s No. 1 center has – somewhat deservedly – taken a lot of heat during the Black and Gold’s lull.

Coming into Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, David Krejci’s slump seemed inescapable, as not even a switch to wing paid dividends for the Czech forward. But after racking up a mere three points in his previous 15 contests, a return to his natural position and a new winger to ride shotgun alongside him sparked a magical evening that coach Claude Julien undoubtedly hopes will help Krejci put his stretch of futility behind him.

No. 46 beat future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur thrice on Thursday, completing his hat trick in dramatic fashion when he buried the game-winner in overtime, leading the B’s to a dramatic, 4-3 victory.

“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking about it, I had two goals in the month of February,” Krejci said of his three-goal performance. “But, you know, I just take it game by game. I want to do my best every game and I was feeling really good before the game and I got [Tyler Seguin] on my line so I was excited about it. We click well together with ‘Looch’ (Milan Lucic) and him and it was a good game for us. I know we had a little sloppy second period but we came back hard in the third and won the game. That was the most important thing tonight.”

Leading up to his overtime strike, the Bruins were in the midst of a change and Krejci was alone in the offensive zone, taking on the Devils 1-on-4 in hopes of maintaining possession until his teammates arrived. His efforts paid off.

“A little lucky (on) that one, I guess,” a humble Krejci said. “I was at the end of my shift, I was tired and, you know, ‘Bergy’ (Patrice Bergeron) made a good play. I kind of sensed it that he was going to throw it in front of the net and ‘Z’ (Zdeno Chara) tried to jam it and I was just at the right place at the right time. I saw (Martin) Brodeur was down, so (my) first thought was go upstairs and it worked that time.”

Seguin’s blazing wheels paid major dividends for the newly-formed trio, as his relocation from Patrice Bergeron’s wing to Krejci’s gave his new line a different dynamic.

“I don’t know if I can take credit there,” Seguin said when asked about helping Krejci improve his game. “When I played with ‘Looch’ in the beginning of the year, I knew kind of his style of game and had chemistry with him. I didn’t have too much time with ‘Krech’ before and I knew those two had chemistry, so I kind of just tried playing my role, to bring my speed and stay wide. I thought we did a good job.”

With a little over a month to go until the playoffs commence, now would be as good a time as any for Krejci to catch fire and head into the postseason on a roll.

“You can’t just turn the switch on when the playoffs come,” Krejci said. “You’ve got to start now. It’s 20 games to go, every game is important and you can’t take a day off here, [from] now until the end of the season. You’ve got to go out there, do your best and try to get ready as much as you can for the playoffs.”

With a few woeful winter months now behind him, if Thursday’s hat-trick performance is any indication, Krejci appears ready to spring back into top form at just the right time for the Black and Gold.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on twitter at @JesseNEHJ.