Folks are very familiar with Patrice Bergeron. The 27-year-old veteran of nine NHL seasons has won a Selke Award as the league's best defensive forward and is arguably one of the best two-way centers in the history of the NHL.
It is time to add a new name to the list.
As a second round draft pick (63rd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft out of the Czech Republic, David Krejci did not enter the League with any type of fanfare in the 2006-07 season after two seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, although fans of the QMJHL knew what Boston was getting after watching Krejci put up 144 points in 117 games for the Olympiques.
Since then, all the native of Sternberk, Czech Republic, has done is produce 91 goals and 218 assists totaling 309 points in 424 career regular season games as a Bruin. Eighteen of his goals have been game winners, while 15 have come on the powerplay. Not only has he produced offensively, Krejci has shown a proclivity for the defensive side of the game as the centerman’s plus/minus statistic of plus-58 will attest. One does not need any more reason to understand why he is the team’s pivot on its No.1 line with wingers Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic.
As impressive as those numbers may be, Krejci has made it a habit to crank up the intensity once the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around. In six trips to the postseason, including this year, his shooting percentage, which was 11.8 per cent during the regular season, elevates to 17.3 per cent when the Cup is on the line.
At a time, when all or almost all clubs play tighter checking hockey concentrating on defense before offense which can cause a player’s statistics to falter somewhat, Krejci finds a way to get it done defensively and offensively.
If you are in need of proof, check out these numbers. During his career, he has played in 75 playoff contests and has scored 29 goals, seven of which have come on the power play while another seven have won games for Boston. He has added 39 assists for a mind bending 68 points in those 75 games. Only the best of the best score at close to a point per game clip in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And what about that plus/minus stat, well that presently stands at plus-32.
When the Black and Gold won the Stanley Cup in 2011, it was Krejci who led the league in playoff scoring with 12 lamplighters and 11 helpers for 23 points in 25 games.
This playoff season, Krejci is working his magic again. After three playoff rounds and on the eve of the Stanley Cup Finals, the 6-foot tall center is heads above everyone else on the NHL’s scoring list with 21 points. His nine goals also lead the league. Two of his markers have won games for the Bruins on their quest for the Cup.
Through it all, Krejci has remained a humble, quiet, almost introverted man. He speaks softly when asked questions by the media and usually gives short, concise answers and he does not like to talk about himself.
After a recent team practice in Boston’s TD Garden, I asked him how he would describe his game to the casual fan who might recognize him on the street.
“I would ask them to look it up on the internet,” Krejci responded. “I don’t really like to talk about myself. I do what I do and don’t really try to do too much. My linemates are great and we just try to go out there and do the best at what we do. ”
Milan Lucic had plenty to say about his linemate when asked to describe him on and off the ice.
“He’s probably the quietest, best player in the league,” Lucic said of Krejci. “I don’t think he gets talked about enough, but we know how great he is and what type of player he is in this dressing room. He’s got a ton of skill. He plays his best in the big games and he’s shown a lot in the playoffs and he’s a fun guy to be around.”
It remains to be seen whether Boston can win its second Stanley Cup in three years, but one can rest assured that when the playoffs come to an end, Krejci will once again have exhibited his best games on hockey’s biggest stage.
Although he does not like to talk about himself, Krecji will be talked about throughout the hockey world and recognized as Boston’s quiet superstar.
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.