BOSTON — When the Bruins took the ice for pregame warmups prior to Thursday night’s game against Edmonton, there was a familiar No. 46 out there taking rushes.
And after warmups, David Krejci felt good enough to go, playing for the first time since Oct. 30 at Buffalo.
“The first period was kind of tough to get my legs, my hands...you know, my mind back into the game,” Krejci said after Boston's 5-2 win over the Oilers. “A couple of, you know, stupid penalties, but it happens. And then after, it was better and better.
"So I’m happy that we won, and now we can enjoy the few days and get back at it on Monday.”
Thursday’s win wasn’t easy to come by, particularly early on. In the first period, the B's were whistled for three penalties, two of them Krejci's: a double-minor for high sticking and a hooking penalty as time expired in the frame. But as has been a theme of late, the Bruins were at their best when the pressure was highest.
After going down 2-1 less than two minutes into the final period, the Bruins responded with four unanswered third-period goals to seal the win, and two of them came on the power play.
Krejci finished the game with a point -- an assist on Milan Lucic's empty-netter to seal the victory -- but Head Coach Claude Julien said it took Krejci some time to find his footing.
“I wasn’t impressed with him in the first period,” Julien said postgame. “Six penalty minutes isn’t what you want to see out of a guy like him. So it was just a matter of him just coming in and understanding he’s missed the first three of the season, he missed the last [two] games. I don’t think he’s in midseason form yet, so he’s got to just keep his shifts short, try and bring the pace of his game up to what it is when he’s good and work on that part of it.
“But it’s his first game back, so I don’t think we were expecting him to carry the team tonight.”
Though they are just 15 games into the 2014-15 season, the Bruins have already dealt with a rash of injuries, mostly on the back end. Still, they have managed to go 5-1 since captain Zdeno Chara went down with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 23. They have won both games that Krejci missed.
It’s true that this team has managed to be its most resilient when faced with the most adversity, but still — the B’s were eager to see their first-line center back on the ice, and Krejci was just as eager to get back out there with his teammates.
“I mean, as a player, you don’t want to sit and watch the games, especially if you feel that you’re ready to play, that you don’t want to sit out,” Krejci said. “So I felt like I was ready to go after morning skate and felt pretty good, so I made a decision after warmups. I felt pretty good this morning, and in warmups, I was ready to go.”
Krejci has missed a total of five games this season with undisclosed injuries. Now in the midst of his eighth full NHL season, it has been an adjustment for him: Not once has he struggled with a nagging injury. He started the 2014-15 campaign on injured reserve, also with an undisclosed injury, missing the first three games of the season.
Though Krejci has kept mum on the nature of the injury — when pressed for details postgame, he smiled and said, “I would love to [tell you], but time will tell” — there hasn’t been a quick, or easy, fix to it. During the third period of Thursday’s game, he even left the bench briefly, feeling it was best for precautionary reasons.
“At the end of the game, it was getting a little sore, so I was just being smart,” he said. “The game was 4-2, so I know that we have a lot of guys that can do the job. So I was just playing smart and tried to keep the shifts short, and I’m glad we got it done.”
In the three seasons prior to this one, Krejci had missed just six regular-season games in total. For him, dealing with an injury has been something new. It is a continued adjustment.
“It’s a concern,” Krejci said of the injury. “That’s not the start to the season I would love to have, but it is what it is. This is my first time that I’m actually battling with injuries in my career, so I’ve got to get through it.
"It’s something new for me, but I’ve been working hard and felt pretty good today. I was good enough to play, so hopefully I’ll have [good days] the next few days good days and feel even better on Monday.”