2013 NHL Playoffs: The Emergence of David Krejci

2013 NHL Playoffs
Jun 1 2013 Pittsburgh PA USA Boston Bruins center David Krejci 46 scores his second goal of the game against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun 92 during the third period in game one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center The Boston Bruins won 3 0 Charles LeClaire USA TODAY Sports

Long criticized for failing to reach his potential, David Krejci has silenced his critics with a remarkable postseason run that has the Boston Bruins just two wins away from a return to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Czech centerman’s 20 postseason points lead the National Hockey League, and his hot streak has led to a tremendous revival amongst his long underachieving linemates.

Last summer, rumor had it that Krejci had become excess to requirements at Boston’s TD Garden and that the 27 year old could be traded. Set to make over $5 million a year through 2015, Krejci no longer seemed cost effective having never managed to become the point per game player that he once seemed certain to be.

After leading the Bruins with 73 points as a 23 year old in 2009, Krejci was gradually overtaken as the Bruins top center by Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron. The arrival of youngster Tyler Seguin further reduced Krejci’s importance to the club, or so it seemed.

Despite his slightly sub-par regular season numbers, Krejci has proven to be a tremendous playoff asset. Two years ago he led the league in postseason scoring, putting up 29 points en route to a championship. This summer he has once again lit up the scoreboard with an unbelievable playoff run.

With eight goals and 12 assists in 14 games, he is Boston’s top candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy, should the Bruins win six more games over the next few weeks.

Read More: 2013 NHL Playoffs: Conference Finals Venues Shift As Two Teams Face 0-2 Deficits

After posting a meager five points in 14 April games, out of which the Bruins won only six, Krejci immediately bounced back in the postseason.

In Game 1 of the Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he scored a goal and added two assists to begin arguably the best series of his career. He would go on to have four multi-point games in the series, racking up a total of 13 points in all seven games.

More impressive than the eye-popping numbers was the clutch nature of Krejci’s points. His two third period assists, including one on Patrice Bergeron’s game-tying goal, jump started Boston’s miraculous Game 7 comeback.

Krejci continued to excel in Round 2 with four points in five games, but he took a back seat to linemate Nathan Horton‘s whose own hot streak has run hand in hand with Krejci’s. After an invisible April, in which he scored just two points, Horton has fed off of Krejci’s energy while complimenting the center nicely to the tune of 17 playoff points, including 10 points in seven games against the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Krejci has also helped to awaken long slumbering grizzly Milan Lucic, who has twelve playoff points of his own. After laying more or less dormant for two seasons, the trio finally looks as lethal as it was in the 2011 postseason. Their newfound confidence was most evident on Monday night when Lucic and Horton provided assists on a beautifully executed 3-on-1 goal for Krejci, that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead early in Game 2 and sent Pens goalie Tomas Vokoun to the bench.

Entering the conference finals the Bruins were expected to rely on their defense to overcome the outstanding Penguins offense, and while Zdeno Chara and the defenseman have stepped up, Krejci and his wingers have stolen the show.

With three goals in the first two games of the series, the gifted playmaker has taken the Bruins confidence to new heights. Playing with first period leads in both games, the Bruins have dominated Pittsburgh with poise, pace and physicality and they have their top center to thank.

If Krejci can keep up his remarkable scoring rate, there is a good chance that he could join Bobby Orr and Tim Thomas as one of the few Bruins to be honored as the MVP of playoffs.

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