David Krejci Has His Breakout Playoff Performance
Congratulations, young man ... you have officially assimilated from hotshot Czech Republic prospect to humble NHL player on the verge of stardom.
Make no mistake, he was special. Krejci had his breakout performance on Monday as the Bruins beat Buffalo, 4-3, and won their first round playoff series four games to two. He scored two goals and added an assist, but did a whole lot more.
"Fantastic game by my man Krech," said wing Milan Lucic, who had two assists. "He was all over the scoresheet and all over the ice. Those are the kind of games we expect from him, the kind we need from him."
Expectations have been high for the 2004 second round pick since last season, when Krejci scored 23 goals and had 71 points in his first full year in the NHL. He slipped to just 17 and 52 in the 2009-10 regular season, but so did every playmaking center on the Bruins in the absence of traded sniper Phil Kessel.
He is so much fun to be around, and you can tell how much he loves being here. He wants the puck everywhere and in the big spot, as you saw tonight. He's so dynamic."
-- Blake Wheeler In the Game 6 clincher, Krejci showed what he's capable of. His perfect deflection of the ageless Mark Recchi's pass on the power play opened the scoring. "That was a heck of a tip," said Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. It was the first time in the six games of the series that the Bruins scored first. "We didn't know how to react," joked Krejci.
Just one minute into the second period, his perfect cross-ice pass was finished by Recchi for the 2-0 lead. His goal at 7:18 of the third made it 3-1.
His transformation on and off the ice is a major development for the Bruins, who advance to the NHL's final eight and also have the second overall pick in the upcoming draft via Kessel's trade to Toronto. As his English has improved, so has his comfort level among his teammates.
"I've gotten to know David a lot the last two years," said forward Blake Wheeler. "I think it's just incredible the way he has developed as a professional. He is so much fun to be around, and you can tell how much he loves being here. He wants the puck everywhere and in the big spot, as you saw tonight. He's so dynamic. I'm not surprised he was one of our best players in a clinching game. As much fun as it probably is to watch him, it's even more fun playing with him."
Krejci was asked what he likes about the playoffs -- the tense games, the loud crowds, the chance to play for a championship. Typically, he had a fresh angle.
For Krejci, who turns all of 24 on Wednesday, it has only just begun.