Does Bruins Success Hinge on Krejci?

It’s no secret that the Boston Bruins have one of the most dominant lines in hockey in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. The stellar trio combined for 99 goals and 228 points last season with all three of them hitting the 30-goal plateau. As integral as this top line was and is to the Bruins’ success, it’s their second line and specifically veteran center David Krejci that will dictate how the team fares this season in a top-heavy Atlantic Division.

Staying Healthy

What has always marred Krejci’s reputation is his inability to stay on the ice. Over his eleven-year career with the Black and Gold, he has only played a full 82-game season twice. Last year, he missed 18 games with a back injury finishing with 44 points in 64 games. If Boston wants to compete with the ludicrously deep forward groups of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs, it is paramount that Krejci remains in the lineup all season long.

David Krejci
Bruins Center David Krejci (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Consistency on the Wings

Milan Lucic
Former Bruins winger Milan Lucic. (John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Since Boston’s Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and their Final appearance in 2013, it has been a long and strenuous journey to put together an elite second line. During those two seasons, Krejci thrived, finishing both years as the playoff leading scorer with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton on his wings. Since 2013, he’s had a revolving door of wingers, and none have been able to replicate the type of success he had with the former two.

Last season again, Krejci was not given the opportunity to build chemistry with consistent line mates. A lot of that can be attributed to the rash of injuries the Bruins suffered up and down the lineup and that can not be avoided. However, if there is to be a Krejci resurgence, Boston must find him a steady pair of linemates.

DeBrusk Looking Like a Good Fit

As of now, it looks like Jake DeBrusk is a lock to play on Krejci’s left wing this season, a position he filled for a good chunk of last year and into the playoffs. DeBrusk and Krejci seemed to have good chemistry near the end of the season and was evident in the playoffs with the two combing for 18 points in 12 games.

Jake DeBrusk Boston Bruins
Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With the future of Rick Nash’s playing career up in the air, it’s still unknown who will play on Krejci’s right side come October. It will no doubt come down to a training camp battle between a few players like Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork, who all showed flashes of top-six potential last year.

Center Depth a Concern?

With the loss of Riley Nash this offseason, the depth down the middle behind Krejci and Patrice Bergeron is questionable. The Bruins have some exciting young center prospects in Jakob Forbacka-Karlsson, Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka, but it remains to be seen if any of these players are ready for NHL jobs. These question marks further amplify Krejci’s importance this season, making his health and production vital for the team to compete again for the Atlantic Division title.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson
Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Spreading the Wealth

An option that continues to grow buzz is moving David Pastrnak down from the top line to play on Krejci’s right wing. Earlier in Pastrnak’s career he and Krejci seemed to be very comfortable playing together and since then, have thrived together for the Czech National team. With the chemistry between these two well established and continuing to grow with DeBrusk, this may be the B’s best course of action.

David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins, NHL
Bruins forward David Pastrnak. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Obviously, the concern in breaking up the NHL’s most productive line is daunting, however, Marchand and Bergeron have been able to prosper with just about anyone on their right wing. Moving Pastrnak down would give Boston an enviable one-two punch, capable of handling their Atlantic rivals and could help return Krejci to the elite center he once was.