By: Pierce Brody | Follow me on Twitter @PierceBrody3
David Krejci, a native of the Czech Republic, made a much-anticipated return to the Boston Bruins this season after spending time away playing in his home country. Krejci’s journey back to the NHL has not been as steady as earlier in his career, but he has revitalized the Bruins’ secondary scoring since last season.
Krejci has been a staple of the Bruins’ lineup since he debuted in the 2006-2007 season. Over the years, he has established himself as a patient and reliable playmaker with excellent vision and an innate ability to prolong offensive possessions. Despite not being a household name, Krejci has quietly kept a very successful Bruins club chugging along for nearly two decades.
However, his return to the Bruins this season has not been perfectly smooth. For moments, Krejci struggled to find his form. However, he readjusted to the pace of the NHL after a brief hiatus quite rapidly. His production has been slightly better than his career averages, with almost a point-per-game. So far, he’s been making the stabilizing impact that the Bruins hoped for. Despite intermittent struggles that have come with age, Krejci continues to show poise with the help of some top-tier teammates.
Krejci was paired with fellow Czechia natives David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha early in the season. The natural chemistry between the three on the ice has become a hallmark this year, and their combination of varied skill, speed, and creativity quickly turned Krejci’s stable second line into a premier scoring group. Pastrnak, one of the league’s top goal-scorers, and Zacha, a talented playmaker and former top-10 pick, complemented Krejci’s patiently surgical skill set perfectly, creating a potent line that scores goals on the rush and wearing down defenses with long stretches of offensive zone time.
Krejci’s line has been instrumental in the Bruins’ success during the first half of the season. Krejci’s capacity for extending plays, Pastrnak’s deadly accuracy, and Zacha’s speed have formed a seamless and formidable Czech line. With the trio supplementing the top line centered by Patrice Bergeron, secondary scoring has improved significantly, giving the team a much-needed boost compared to last season.
Krejci’s performance has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise, considering that he was coming off a hiatus from the NHL. Some players struggle to regain their form after taking a break from the top league, such as Ilya Kovalchuk.
His return this season has continued to solidify his place in Bruins’ history. While he may not have the charisma and awards of Bergeron or the show-stopping plays of Brad Marchand, Krejci has established himself as one of the better playmakers in the team’s long history. We may not see his number raised to the rafters like Bergeron’s is guaranteed to be, but given his long history with Boston, there are certainly some events that could change his luck within the next few years.
If the Bruins pull out a Stanley Cup run this season with Krejci centering a highly successful second line, there is undoubtedly more weight behind his eventual jersey retirement. He still has a chance even if they, dare I say, don’t win it all. A few more successful second-line seasons or, perhaps, a Cup win within the next few seasons could help convince the Bruins to hang number 46 over the ice. However, there is no assurance that Krejci will be back next season.
Throughout his career, Krejci was never considered a superstar. Nonetheless, his contributions to the Bruins, both this season and in past seasons, cannot be overstated. He has been a critical player for the team for well over a decade, and his ability to consistently produce, despite not being a central figure, is what makes him so valuable.
In contrast with last season’s second line, the stability he has provided this season proves that value. Still, Krejci is likely not guaranteed the honor of a jersey retirement thus far, but this season and possibly the next are his last opportunities to prove to the fans and the franchise that he is more than just the consummate second fiddle to the true Boston greats.