The Boston Bruins will be without center David Krejci when they take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus on the tail end of their second back-to-back this season.
Krejci left the game with what was termed by the team as an ‘upper-body’ injury, but appeared to be a wrist or arm injury 8:30 into the second period of the Bruins’ 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday and did not return.
“He won’t be traveling with us (to Columbus), not available [Friday],” Montgomery said. “That we know. He’s going to get looked at tomorrow.”
David Krejci takes a check into the boards and then a stick to the head. The veteran heads down the tunnel. #NHLBruins
— Short Handed Takes: Bruins 🅿️odcast 🎙 (@ShortHandedTks) October 28, 2022
David Krejci has been superb is his return to the Boston Bruins and the NHL after a year away playing in his native Czechia. The 36-year-old center signed a one-year, $1 million, incentive-laden contract to return to the Bruins this offseason. He leads his team in assists with six helpers in eight games, and is tied with Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron for second on the team in points behind winger David Pastrnak who leads the team in goals with six lamplighters and points with 15 after a three-point (1g, 2a), on Thursday.
There’s no doubt that no matter how long Krejci winds being out of the lineup, the Boston Bruins will miss him dearly but as winger Brad Marchand pointed out in his grand return to the lineup (1g, 2a), Thursday, the Bruins have already been mastering the ‘next man up’ mentality. The Bruins stormed out to a league-best 6-1-0 (12 pts), in his absence, and are still missing their best defenseman in Charlie McAvoy.
“I thought we did great,” Marchand said of the team’s performance after Krejci left. “It’s tough losing a guy at all, but especially of his caliber. He’s been great early on for us but we’ve always had that mentality in here. I mean, you’ve seen it this year with how the group’s played with guys being out, they just rally around that ‘next man up’ mentality and they did a great job closing it out. We kind of took over the third there and imposed our will. It’s great to see that when guys go down and it just gives someone else an opportunity and you saw that with other guys stepping up.”
On Thursday, that next man up to step into Krejci’s role was Pavel Zacha, who was drafted as and has played a good bulk of his career thus far at center. As of late Thursday night, new head coach Jim Montgomery said that he plans to use Zacha in Krejci’s slot between Taylor Hall and Pastrnak.
“Pavel Zacha’s off the top of my head, that’s who’s going to get moved in,” Montgomery said of Zacha who has a goal and three assists in his first eight games as a Bruin after he was acquired in exchange for forward Erik Haula in the offseason. “I thought he did a good job there, in the last 30 minutes of the game.”
Ironically, and some could say unfortunately, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney finalized a trade, during the win Thursday night, that sent center Jack Studnicka to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for goalie prospect Michael DiPietro and the rights to defenseman prospect Jonathan Myrenberg. Sweeney was asked by reporters late Thursday night if there was any immediate regret on dealing away a young center just minutes after Krejci left the game? The Bruins GM acknowledged the awkward and untimely timing of the trade but also expressed faith in Zacha to step up in Krejci’s absence.
“Well, everything is timing right?” Sweeney asked rhetorically Thursday night. “Krech gets hurt in the second period of the game, so you maybe start to second-guess making a move earlier in the day and then finalizing it during the game, but we made the commitment from a roster standpoint what direction we were going to go, and really it was an opportunity for Jack also. To have a reset and go to a team that was looking for a younger center that could probably grow with their group, and they have significant injuries and I think he goes in and gets a significant opportunity right away that he probably would’ve gotten here until. …I mean again, maybe ‘Krech’ but we were inclined to move Pavel into the middle of the ice, which you saw tonight is something, forward thinking for us, is really important for us now, and moving forward.”