David Krejci shows playoff greatness
The numbers don't lie.
Nine goals. Twelve assists. Twenty-one points.
All in 16 games.
The goals, the points: They are the highest anyone has put up in the NHL's postseason this year.
Are these the numbers of Sidney Crosby, arguably one of the most gifted players in the game? Perhaps his teammate, Evgeni Malkin? One of the young guns -- Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews -- of the Chicago Blackhawks?
No. They're the statistics put up by the anomaly that is David Krejci.
Year in, year out, Bruins fans and media members voice frustration over Krejci's regular-season inconsistency. He's a gifted playmaker with an underutilized and underrated shot who can get hot and produce points in bunches, but when he goes cold, it's the Arctic tundra.
For all the complaints that come out regarding his work during the season, there's no doubt that Krejci is a clutch postseason performer. The 27-year-old Czech is on fire in the playoffs, one of the major reasons the B's are heading to contend for their second Stanley Cup in three years after a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.
When the Bruins hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup two seasons ago, it was Krejci leading the team in both goals (12) and points (23). He did so playing in 25 games and was applauded for the effort. This year, the center's greatness is even more phenomenal.
Krejci's career playoff numbers reflect just how he shines once the postseason starts. Over the past six seasons, he's participated in 75 games in the NHL playoffs, averaging nearly a point per contest on 29 goals and 39 assists.
Still not buying the importance of the soft-spoken center? Take a look at how the Bruins have fared with Krejci out of the lineup or at less than 100 percent in the playoffs.
In 2010, Krejci took a solid -- and clean -- hit from Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. Krejci missed the rest of the postseason with a right wrist injury and the Bruins collapsed in historic fashion.
And after the Bruins topped the Washington Capitals in overtime of Game 1 of last season's opening round, Krejci was leveled by a pane of glass falling from atop the boards during the team's celebration. Though Krejci didn't miss any time, it's likely that incident had rattled at least the center's psyche.
Once again playing on Boston's most productive line this postseason, Krejci has enabled both Milan Lucic (three goals) and Nathan Horton (seven goals) to thrive. In addition, his play at both ends of the ice and at the faceoff dot has drawn the top defensive pairings of the opposition. And on a team as deep as the Bruins, taking a top D pairing's attention is almost as important as some of the numbers the trio has accumulated.
And as the owner of a contract that carries through 2014-15, Krejci will have a chance to continue frustrating fans throughout the next two regular seasons. But if he keeps up the pace he has in the playoffs for his career, how much does the rest matter?
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