Conroy: David Krejci delivers solid effort as second line helps key Bruins win against Edmonton

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With the advent of the two-headed monster that is Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand, and with the meteoric talent of David Pastrnak thrown into the mix, there is no questioning just which forward grouping is the Bruins’ top line.

But there was a time a few years ago when David Krejci was widely considered the team’s No. 1 center — and all the B’s did in those days was win a Stanley Cup. Top line duty may now be behind the 32-year-old Krejci, but he still has something to bring to the table.

In the B’s 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night at the Garden, Krejci (one assist) may not have played the best game he’s ever had as a Bruin, but he showed up and did his job as the second line center. He’s certainly capable of having more explosive nights, but the B’s need him to carry his weight every night. And last night, he did that and a little more in what he termed as a good step forward.

“A hundred percent,” Krejci said. “We had a decent game. Obviously, there’s not one game in my career that was perfect, but it was definitely a step forward. I just have to work hard and chip away.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy may have upset some fans who can never get enough of the kids, but his move to scratch Ryan Donato from Krejci’s underperforming second line and play Joakim Nordstrom on the left side — Jake DeBrusk was moved to his off wing for the right — paid dividends with the goal that firmly put the B’s in control of he game late in the first period.

Just after the Bruins took a 2-1 lead on Marchand’s fluky power-play goal in the first period, Krejci and his rejiggered line went to work deep in their zone, mushing the puck along the boards and out of danger. Finally DeBrusk sprung Nordstrom and Krejci for an odd-man rush with a check of Milan Lucic and the two Europeans didn’t mess around with it. When they got to the slot, Krejci sent a perfect pass to Nordstrom on his left and the Swede redirected it past goalie Cam Talbot at 15:13 of the first.

“A world class play,” marveled Nordstrom in describing the Krejci pass.

That was it for the scoring until Bergeron’s empty-netter, but there was a lot of work to be done. While Bergeron and Sean Kuraly took the brunt of the brilliant Connor McDavid’s shifts, Krejci lead all Bruins forwards in even-strength ice time (17:31).

“(Krejci) had more jump, he was more involved,” Cassidy said, “and part of that is on me to keep him involved with penalty kills, etc., if his power play group’s not getting out there, so we tried to keep him more involved in the game and he had more jump. And when he’s going, he makes people around him better. It was only a matter of time I think before we started to get a little more balance. And Nordy wants to play. He sat out the last game and he’s got a lot of pride, so he scored. But not only that, he won a lot of pucks and played the game as advertised. He’s up and down his wing, he manages the pucks, he backchecks with purpose. He’s got a good stick in the D-zone. He had about three or four help plays in the slot that we’re trying to teach the details to the younger kids, not to leave too early. So it was nice to see him get rewarded with a goal as well.”

Krejci’s total ice time was 19:11, by far the most he’s played this year. And when the Oilers pulled Talbot for the extra skater, he was among the first over the boards to defend.

“The one way to earn the coach’s trust is to play good hockey and be good defensively, protect the puck in the O-zone and be good on the forecheck. I dd feel today that I had a little more trust than in the past, so I wanted to return the favor and play a strong game,” Krejci said. “It was a good step forward, for us especially after the last game against Ottawa. It was brutal. This was a good step forward, a good bounce-back game. But I always say it’s about the next one. Nobody cares about tonight tomorrow, so I want to keep working hard and keep earning the trust.”

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