Krejci keeps his fingers crossed...
Over the past couple of seasons, David Krejci
's name has been whispered in hushed tones when fans, players and writers alike have talked about potential superstars in the Boston lineup.
Last season, Krejci earned a reputation as a top-flight performer during the B's run at the Eastern Conference crown.
But after the B's too-early postseason exit, there was a collective groan from the Hub of Hockey when it was learned that the young Bruins pivot would need offseason surgery.
Questions arose: When would he be able to skate? When would he be able to play?
Earlier this summer, when David hinted that he might actually be ready for the regular season, even the most ardent Bruins supporters might have felt that Krejci was being overly optimistic.
Instead, the man called "The Matrix" by NESN's Jack Edwards was somehow able to do exactly what he does on the ice off of it -- that is, squeeze every second out of the time he'd been given to produce a goal.
"Right now things are looking good," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien of the center's chances to play in Boston's season opening game against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
"He's feeling better and I think he is feeling more confident," said Julien. "The official decision will come tomorrow, but right now it is looking good."
But will Krejci be able to withstand the grind of the season?
"That's the reason behind the surgery, so he could come back at 100%," said Julien. "As we speak, I don't see any reason why he would need those [maintenance] days off. Last year he did, because of those issues. But those have been resolved, hopefully.
"He's ahead of schedule. And I think a lot of the credit has to go to two different groups: obviously him, as the individual, for how hard he has worked at it, but the other [group] is our trainers [for] the therapy he's had and how hard they've worked with him -- this wouldn't have been possible if those guys hadn't been with him.
"They've done a tremendous job of rehabilitating him and putting him ahead of schedule."
Krejci was smiling when I approached him at his locker in the Wilmington practice facility after Wednesday's practice. Obviously, he knew what I was going to ask, and was happy with the answers he would be able to give.
"It's going to be nice to be out there after these four months," said Krejci, as he suddenly put on a game face. "That's why I worked hard during the summer.
"This is it. I hope to play tomorrow, I feel ready, but it's up to coach whether he puts me in tomorrow.
"I am excited for the new season to start and I can't wait," he said.
This was always Krejci's plan, and whenever he returns to the ice in the near future, it will have been because he and the B's training staff worked their tails off to make it happen.
"It was a good thing that I did the surgery in the summer so that I had all summer off," said Krejci. "I didn't miss any in-season games [Krejci knocked on wood, as he said this], so even when I started skating a month and a half ago, I knew I wasn't 100%, and I knew I had some time before the season started.
"So I didn't worry at all. I knew it would [take some time] to progress and we took it day-by-day.
"It was even better every week and now I feel good to go," he repeated.
Krejci and his teammates know what they face during the upcoming home stretch. The spoked-B is now a big ol' Black & Gold target, on which all of the teams in the NHL will have their sights set.
"We know we have a good team here and we know that there are high expectations on us, but we are ready for it," he said. "We have a good enough team to do it and it is up to us whether we start the season on the right foot and be good again, like we were last year.
"I feel confidence in our team and I think we can do it."
Despite his success last season and the offseason surgery, Krejci doesn't expect to approach the game any differently.
"My game doesn't change," he said. “I'll go out there and try to do my best.
"I'll try to make the right decisions with the puck, not panic and be in the right position in our zone.
"Basically, I will try to play the same way as last year. But I am a year older and I feel that I am better and stronger, so that's what I want to add to my game," he said.
On Tuesday, Patrice Bergeron
said he was happy to be starting the year in the friendly confines of TD Garden.
"It means a lot," said Bergeron. "It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we start at home, so we’re very excited -- looking forward to it -- and we obviously want to give a pretty good show to the fans.
"We know that they’re going to be there. They’ve been great [especially in the] playoffs last year, so we’re looking forward for Thursday."
The Boston Bruins are in the middle of their last preseason practice here in Wilmington's Ristuccia Arena. Yesterday, post-practice, the B's were all looking forward to starting the regular season, but everyone was happy to be having a few practices together before the first game against Washingont.
"Yeah, it’s good to get everyone together in here [in practice] right now for a lot of systems stuff," said Bitz. "It's a lot of review, but again, that stuff you need to brush up on in a hurry here because we have that game on Thursday and we get rolling into the season pretty quick."
Bitz said that review was helpful, but that he wasn't overyly worried about picking up Coach Julien's systems where he left off last spring.
"It’s pretty simple and there’s nothing too complicated about it, " said Bitz, thoughtfully. "But it’s effective so it’s important to learn."
Simple is a word that is getting thrown about with some regularity right now.
After all, this edition of the the Boston Bruins knows that there is work to be done, but they all know that not all of it can be done on the the first night.
"Yeah, I think it’s just that same old playing to your strengths," said Bitz of his plan going into the regular season. "I need to be strong on the puck, I need to be aggressive on the forecheck and get in there and bang some people around.
"Hopefully create some space that way and hopefully the rest will come.
"[This early in the year] it's not complicated game right now -- keep it simple, simple stupid, and hopefully it’s effective."