Bruins still trying to find the perfect combo for Krejci line


BRIGHTON, Mass – While the Bruins have held strong and consistent with a loaded top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, it’s been another exercise in change and adjustment for David Krejci. The Czech playmaking center has spent some time centering youngsters Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk, but he’s also had others like Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and David Backes filtering in and out at times since he returned from a back injury. 

Krejci also hasn’t been reunited with Pastrnak after the two Czech forwards started the season together by design, and it feels like the second line is a work-in-progress for the Bruins coaching staff. Krejci has still been pretty solid throughout, however, with two goals and five points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games during the month of December, and there may be more tinkering to come as Bruce Cassidy juggles his forwards.


Krejci dinged the crossbar late in the game against the Rangers in a play that could have been a game-winner for the Black and Gold, and shooting a little more often has definitely part of his adjustment playing with younger wingers.

“It’s not ideal for David. We’ve decided to leave [Pastrnak] up, so he’s getting some kids and he’s getting Ryan Spooner, who is a centerman. But he does think the game a lot like David, so they could complement each other,” said Cassidy. “I just think you need a heavier presence on the line. What I mean by heavier is net presence and net-drive. It doesn’t have to be a 230-pounder, but it’s a guy that will get to the net for them. 

“That could be Jake or Anders, and that’s what we’d like to see out of them on a consistent basis. They did on the first goal [vs. the Rangers] that was offside with both Jake and Ryan going to the net. In today’s game you’re allowed that ice and you’re going to get calls if you’re interfered with or whacked. That’s the emphasis for that line. David has been patient, and we appreciate it, where we’re trying to find the right combo.”

Truth be told, the injured Peter Cehlarik sounds like the exact kind of player that Cassidy and the B's are looking for on Krejci's line. 

Bjork is coming off a healthy scratch for not being hard enough on the puck, and that the hope is that he will respond as DeBrusk did so effectively last month. DeBrusk actually had a season-low in ice time in the Rangers loss last weekend because he was also a little too light in his board battles, so both young guys should have something to prove on Monday night against a heavy, hard-working Metro Division team in Columbus. 

DeBrusk clearly has the tools to play a little bit more of the power forward game despite his average size at left wing, but must play that game while also moving his feet and playing the skating game as well. 

One thing that might be seen sooner rather than later is a look at Heinen with Krejci on the second line given the way he’s performed this season. Clearly he’s not a big, strong power forward that might be ideal for Krejci, but Heinen has shown significant battle in his game this season for a young guy known more for his skill. The young winger has shown a willingness to pay the price and win battles on the third line, and is on pace for 21 goals and 54 points this season while clearly possessing the offensive skill needed to play with No. 46. The only hesitation would be breaking up a third line of Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been very effective, but that hasn’t stopped the B’s coaching staff from kicking it around. 

“I think it’s a very valid point that’s been discussed,” said Cassidy, when asked about the possibility of moving Heinen with Krejci on the second line. “You can move one of the young kids down with Nash and Backes, and maybe they can pull them along and grown their game. It just means another new winger for him as we’re trying to find the right chemistry for him, but that is definitely a possibility. They played together last year, but I think Danton has grown a lot as a player and would be a better fit.”

Ultimately that’s what it’s all about: Finding the best fit for Krejci to get his line at optimal levels as the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak trio has been for the bulk of this season. 


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