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Why David Krejci Is Due For Game 3 Cup Final Success

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He wears the “A” as an assistant captain for the Boston Bruins. He had 73 points in 81 regular season games. He had at least one point in every game of the Eastern Conference Final. So far during the Cup Final, nothing.

So where’s David Krejci?

Over the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, we haven’t even heard as much as an on-ice whisper from Boston’s second-line center.

Three shots. Zero points.

That sums up Krejci’s stat line in the 2019 Cup Final. It’s the first time since the first two games of the playoffs that Krejci has gone two games without a point. It’s that consistency that makes this mini-drought so apparent.

If we look at the even strength Event Map provided by Natural Stat Trick we can see that, offensively, he’s been a ghost:

boston bruins

 

Two even-strength shots. Two hits. Two shots blocked. Two giveaways. That doesn’t ring of a very Krejci-esque performance. For Boston to have success in this series, they need better five-on-five numbers from Krejci and the second line.

In terms of five-on-five situations, Bruce Cassidy mused, “Haven’t produced as much five-on-five as we’d like yet. Solid, reliable performers. March, Pasta, Berge and Krej are all first for scoring, so they’ve done it in the Playoffs. Not maybe in these two games, short sample size. That’s what we’re looking for. The better players perform, better chance of winning. I expect they’ll be better in St. Louis offensively. We’ll go from there.”

I do wonder if Krejci is still feeling some effects of an illness that kept him out of practice before the Cup Final started. Of course, NHL players notoriously don’t give excuses, and we always learn of the extraordinary injuries they play through in the days after the season (see Patrice Bergeron), and Krejci is no different. If we do see a similar dud in Game 3, I think red flags should start to go up on Krejci’s health.

But, health speculation aside, let’s examine some pertinent numbers.

The numbers (sample size be damned) for Krejci’s line with Jake DeBrusk and David Backes over the first two games are:

Corsi For Percentage:  61.90%

Shot For Percentage: 75%

Scoring Chance Percentage: 37.50%

Offensive Zone Faceoff Percentage: 90%

The numbers for that same line throughout this postseason are:

Corsi For Percentage: 56.36 %

Shot For Percentage: 60.71 %

Gagne-Bergeron Pro-Am

Scoring Chance For Percentage: 63.64 %

Offensive Zone Faceoff Percentage: 81.25 %

But the killer was the Game 2 performance:

Time On Ice: 6:42

Corsi For Percentage: 14.29 %

Shot For Percentage: 0%

Scoring Chance For Percentage: 0%

Offensive Zone Faceoff Percentage: 75.00%

I will be interested to see how Cassidy shuffles his lines if Boston begins Game 3 on a sour note. In Game 2 Cassidy put Pastrnak on the second line with Krejci and DeBrusk and the numbers vastly improved:

Time On Ice: 3:06

Corse For Percentage: 50%

Shot For Percentage: 50%

Scoring Chance For Percentage: 40%

The scoring chances haven’t been there for the second line, especially with Backes on the wing.  But the second line is getting plenty of time in the offensive zone, at least to start shifts. If I saw those numbers and their Corsi, offensive zone faceoffs, and shots were skewed very low, I’d be worried. But the fact this second line is seeing time in offensive zone should provide some hope for Boston.

Of course, it comes down to a simple but oh-so-complicated thing: execution.

And Krejci, for his part, has at least executed the faceoff very well. He has won faceoffs at a rate of 85.7 percent over the first two games, and 90 percent of the second line faceoffs come in the offensive zone. That is a recipe for success. It’s the key reason we should see points on the stat sheet for Krejci when Game 3 is over.

Offensive zone faceoff efficiency will lead to more shots and scoring for the second line. And it all starts with David Krejci.

 

Tom Fitzgerald was a co-founder of XN Sports which was a content partner with the Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune and content provider to Aol. Sports. He has written about the NHL for XN Sports, Sporfolio, and Murphy's Hockey Law.

Copyright ©2020 National Hockey Now and Boston Hockey Now.

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