Despite once again playing with a revolving door of wingers and starting the 2019-20 campaign slowly, David Krejci isn’t having a bad season.
Recording just one assist in his first five games on the year, Krejci and the Bruins second line have been drawing the ire of the Bruins faithful all season long.
Outside of that start and one stretch of play between Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 that saw Krejci held pointless in five games, however, the 33-year-old center has actually been very consistent on the scoresheet and has only gone pointless in consecutive games one other time.
While his slow start may be lingering on the minds of his critics, Krejci has moved past his early woes and has quietly produced 12 goals and 34 points in 42 games, including four goals and six points in his last six games.
Krejci is producing roughly 0.81 points-per-game and 0.28 goals-per-game. That would put him on a pace for 23 goals and 66 points over a full 82-game season. For reference, 23 goals would have tied Krejci’s career-high while 66 points would have ranked fourth in his 13-seasons.
Despite playing without a consistent right-winger, Krejci is once again playing very good hockey and is showing the Bruins that they can be so much more than a one-line scoring team if they spread the wealth throughout their lineup.
Krejci and Pastrnak Have Good Chemistry
In his brief time alongside David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, Krejci proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can still produce at a top-tier level offensively if given the linemates to get the job done. He seemingly hasn’t missed a beat since being reunited with Jake DeBrusk either as the 23-year-old winger has also turned things around.
It’s been said a million times before and it’ll be said a million times more as long as the Bruins have a hole in their top-six, but breaking up the line of Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak may not be the worst idea in the world if the Bruins want Krejci to be best utilized every single night.
In theory, it may seem foolish to separate what has once again been the Bruins’ best line, especially with Pastrnak scoring goals at a near-historic pace for the team.
With that in mind, though, Pastrnak has already proven that he can score goals without Bergeron as his pivot. He’s also proven that he and Krejci work well together which could be exactly the boost that the duo of Krejci and DeBrusk have been missing all season long.
As it stands, the 23-year-old winger has already scored 37 goals and 70 points through 51 games this season.
Projecting Lines With Pastrnak Alongside Krejci
For the sake of argument, the Bruins could run the following lines without making a call-up or a trade:
Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork
DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak
Heinen – Coyle – Kuhlman
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Ideally, the Bruins would use Bjork on the third-line alongside Coyle and Heinen given the success that trio has had together. Unfortunately, the Bruins simply don’t have another option to fill the void next to Bergeron and Marchand in that scenario outside of Jack Studnicka – an interesting concept but probably not one the team should look at this season.
Coyle has been played on the wing at various points of the 2019-20 campaign but he is best suited to play center on this team and that’s where the team should have him playing in the postseason.
In a perfect world, a player like Zach Senyshyn or Peter Cehlarik could fill in for the top line or supplement the third line, but the former was unfortunately injured after having a strong stint with the big club in Boston and the latter has failed to show head coach Bruce Cassidy enough to earn a spot in the lineup through three games this season.
It does feel like Cehlarik would be a better option than what the team has often deployed throughout this season, but it may be hard to convince Cassidy of that for one reason or another right now despite strong play in the AHL.
Regardless of the Cehlarik situation, though, the Bruins do indeed have talent beyond their first-line which can be exasperated if they spread the wealth once again with Pastrnak skating alongside Krejci.
This is something that Cassidy has tried in the past and has seemingly wanted to use more with injuries, unfortunately, throwing a wrench into those plans.
Following the 2020-All Star Break, it would suit the Bruins to re-unite Patrnak with Krejci while also continuing their active search for a top-six winger to skate alongside Bergeron and Marchand.
Bjork certainly has the potential to be a top-six winger one day but the Bruins have an aging core and the time is now to strike big for a Stanley Cup, especially after coming so close just one year ago.