Only Ray Bourque, Patrice Bergeron and Phil Esposito have amassed more playoff points for the Boston Bruins. Bourque tallied 161 career playoff points (36 goals). Bergeron has 103 points so far with 40 goals and Espo piled up 102 points on the strength of 46 goals. Then it’s David Krejci boasting 101 points and 36 career playoff goals so far. Krejci is ahead of some pretty prolific names, spanning decades of Bruins playoff history including Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Johnny Bucyk, Rick Middleton and Wayne Cashman.
So where is he now?
So far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, Krejci is sporting a vacant stat line across the board. A series of goose eggs in four games. Zero goals, zero assists for zero points. The line he centers has amassed a total of two assists in the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final (both from Jake DeBrusk). For a team heading into game five most likely without its leader, Zdeno Chara, saddled with a broken jaw, the Bruins must get more from their offense. The defense was already reeling somewhat given the loss of Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2, so now even more is needed from their forwards, particularly from the players they have always relied on to date.
A lot has been made of the lack of production from first line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and for the most part it’s been merited. However, my eyes are on Krejci. I trust that the top line will figure it out, perhaps it will take some coaching intervention from Bruce Cassidy to help free up some space for them and spark their needed breakout, but regardless, Krejci cannot go o’fer. Not now. Not with three games left in the Stanley Cup Final.
When Krejci is on his game he’s subtle. He sets a table pretty elegantly if not sneakily and goals from his line come quite suddenly. A testament to his skill, instincts and anticipation. All things I’d like to see again before the series ends. We saw it in flashes over the first three series’ when Krejci tallied 14 points in 17 games but since the calendar turned to June – poof! His game has vanished. In fairness, June certainly is a fine time for a vacation, but starting it after the series is over would be preferable. The Bruins need him and his line right now.
Adding to the mystery and frustration is that Krejci’s game has typically elevated when the lights have been the brightest. Again, his game is subtle but the playoff goals have been very loud in the past and the Stanley Cup Final has never been too big of a stage for him; at least up to now. During the 2011 Stanley Cup championship series he amassed six points in seven games. In the 2013 Final his production was similar, earning five points in six games. Pretty good track record. So I’ll ask again, where is he now?
Credit the St. Louis Blues for making life difficult on the Bruins most skilled players. The Blues hit hard and often. They take their share of liberties too, but like it or not, through four games they’ve shortened the ice and tightened the noose on the Bruins most skilled players and no one has been more affected by it than Krejci. At least when the Bergeron line is on the ice you know they’re out there. Line 2? Not so much. I’ve been having trouble seeing Krejci’s number on the ice. He’s number 46 if memory recalls.
This problem needs to be solved right away, like period one tonight and I’ll tell you why. The Blues are not going to change their strategy or tactics. That’s because it’s their only hope of competing with the far more talented and deeper Bruins. They must hit with force and suffocate as much of the ice as possible to have a chance in this series. They did it with great success on Monday night and they are built to sustain that approach.
Conversely, the Bruins could be down both Chara and Grzelcyk, both of whom are two of the Bruins that can both give and take the hits that are sure to come. While news could be better than what was first reported on both of those players, the fact remains that they will likely each be limited even if one or both do play. So what’s the end result? If the Blues aren’t changing then the Bruins must and it starts with guys like Krejci putting a crooked number or three up on the scoreboard starting tonight.
So while a great deal of focus has been on the first line and what they need to do, don’t forget about No. 46 and his mates on Line 2, because the stat line will clearly show you that the St. Louis Blues haven’t. Krejci has been paged. Now he needs to answer the call.