WINNIPEG - David Krejci made his long awaited return to the lineup in Minnesota on Wednesday night, after missing 11 straight games and 17 of the previous 19 with an undisclosed injury he's been battling all season.
Twice amidst that stretch, he had tried to return.
He missed two games in early November before returning to play on November 6. He missed the next four games and then made another return on November 18, but was sidelined for the Bruins' ensuing 11 games.
This time around, Krejci is confident that he won't encounter those setbacks.
"Glad I got through it," the center said on Friday morning, as his team prepared to face the Jets. "I'm glad I'm ready to go again tonight."
As the Bruins finish off their road trip in Winnipeg on Friday night, Krejci is focused on helping the team close out their road trip by picking up five of six points, but he's also focused on making sure the once injured area continues feeling fine.
"This is the kind of thing where you don't want to take this lightly, you've got to stay on top of it and once you get a few games under your belt, then I'm sure it's going to be fine," Krejci said following Friday's morning skate at the MTS Centre. "But it's only the second game back, so I shouldn't get carried away and do crazy stuff out there."
"So just go out there, play the game the right way and hopefully come out with the two points and go back home."
It's not that Krejci is limiting himself on the ice. He's just being more attentive.
"I wouldn't say limiting - I just was playing really smart," he said. "I tried to come back two times, and re-injured it, so I don't want it to happen again. So, just kind of playing smart and trying not to do too much…Just try to play the game the right way and the rest will take care of itself."
Krejci logged the second most ice time of the Bruins' forwards in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win over the Wild, with 18:22 (behind only Loui Eriksson at 19:21). He was on the ice for a goal against and had a tough time on the faceoff dot, but logged special teams minutes, blocked three shots and fired one shot on goal.
Even if it will take Krejci time to get his game back, his credibility and creativity requires opposing players to respect him every time he hops over the boards.
"You know, Krech makes a difference as soon as he steps on the ice," said Reilly Smith. "I think last game, he made a lot of space for his line and made a lot of creative, good plays so it's a huge boost to our team and he's a great guy to have in the dressing room as well."
Following Krejci's return on Wednesday, it was easy to see his sense of relief that he survived the game without a hitch. It will still take a few games for him to mentally know that he's back for good (and for what he hopes is the rest of the season), but he appears to be on that track.
That's a great sign for the Bruins, who get the benefit of much more stability in their lines with Krejci back.
"The situation we're in, that one player coming in, it just seemed to balance a lot of things out with our lineup," said Head Coach Claude Julien, noting its not too often that a player coming back from injury can make that much of an impact right away.
That situation has the Bruins coming off a tough stretch, having snapped a three-game losing streak in Minnesota. They need to get on a roll, and having Krejci back should help.
"We're battling for the last playoff spot right now. I know there's still more than half a season left, but we want to get those points right now in the middle of the season," said Krejci.
"This would be a perfect ending to the road trip with five points, so obviously we're going to do everything we can to get the two points."