Arthur: David Krejci excels when it matters most
Underrated Bruins forward a natural playoff performer
David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins scores a goal on Tomas Vokoun #92 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period during Game One of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on June 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, Getty Images
PITTSBURGH — The Boston Bruins dressing room is a carnival of types. Zdeno Chara is the giant, looming, with big eyes and skinny calves. Milan Lucic is a boulder with perhaps the most hockey-appropriate face in the NHL, rough-hewed, and seems to be carrying muscles on his back. Brad Marchand has previously embraced the nickname Nose Face Killah, while Jaromir Jagr is sporting mutton chops. Shawn Thornton looks like he should be in movies, maybe guarding the doorway to a bar. Patrice Bergeron’s face should be a bust in a museum.
And then, over in the corner, there’s David Krejci. Medium height, medium weight, short hair, short beard, hard to pick out of a lineup. He had 19 points in 13 games in the playoffs going into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final Monday night in Pittsburgh, and he scored Boston’s first two goals in Game 1, both with Sidney Crosby as the opposing centre on the ice. Yeah, that guy.
“It’s exciting — you’re playing for something you dream about when you’re a kid, and we’re pretty close right now to the finals,” says Krejci, in his very reasonable voice. “It’s definitely fun, it’s exciting, and it’s worth fighting for.”
The playoffs are everybody’s favourite time of year, but Krejci swims naturally in the water. He had an NHL-high 23 points in 25 playoff games when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup two years ago; he has 66 points in 72 career playoff games, entering Game 2. He had 32 points in 17 playoff games in his final year in the QMJHL, with Gatineau — he had 81 points in 55 regular-season games, so his rate went up there, too — and 16 points in 13 AHL playoff games as a 20-year-old. He finds it worth fighting for, and he’s good at this kind of fighting.
“I think it’s his whole game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He makes plays. He shoots more. I think it’s one of those guys that really loves the playoffs, and loves the intensity and excitement that comes with it, and really gets up for those.
“And we often say that when there’s 82 games in the season, there’s guys that get bored with it. And I know it’s not what people want to hear, but when I say ‘get bored,’ it’s like, trying to get up for 82 games is maybe unrealistic, but … playoff hockey goes up a notch from regular season. Well, that’s because things mean a lot more, and that’s just the natural thing in players’ minds.”
“I don’t think I’m bored,” shrugs Krejci, who has 309 points in 424 career regular-season games. “I’m still trying in the regular season to do my best, in regular season [the playoffs] are still far away. But once you get in the playoffs the goal seems a little closer, you know. Maybe that’s why you bring your game at another level, I guess.”
He has a wonderfully egalitarian view of the game; it’s not exceptional, just pragmatic.
“Everyone in the NHL is pretty much on the same level,” Krejci says, before referring to Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. “Maybe those guys have better skills than the rest of us, but once we step on the ice, you’re just doing what you know.”
All this, of course, has prompted talk of just how underrated Krejci is, which is theoretically true. When he was tearing apart Toronto in the first round with Nathan Horton and Lucic, he was so underrated. Now again, he is so underrated. Or something.
“The way their whole line has played throughout the playoffs, I think everyone is well aware of how dangerous they are out there,” Crosby said. “So I wouldn’t say he’s underrated — he’s been really consistent, and he’s a really smart hockey player, finds a way to get openings and capitalizes on his chances.”
If you ask Krejci about being underrated or not, talked about enough or not, he shrugs again. He is content to blend into the background, or not. As he talks, he methodically runs his thumb along his skate blade, back and forth.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Once I’m done playing hockey, in 10 years or whatever, I’m going to have my pictures, my ring, obviously more than just one, and that’s all that matters. I’m not speaking for myself, but the best players in the world, they’re not asking to be famous or recognized, you know, but it’s just the way it is. They’re just so good that people talk about them all the time. And they deserve it. It’s not like they’re asking for it. It’s just the way it is.
“I’m just going with the flow. When I have a good game, people talk about me, and when I don’t have a good game, people don’t talk about me. And I don’t care.”
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