|David Krejci receives the 7th Player Award from B's play-by-play man Jack Edwards prior to Thursday's game against the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) |
A very wise 22-year-old from the Czech Republic said these very words as he sat on the brink of a long playoff road, surveying the rest of the NHL world.
Boston center David Krejci
is certainly not living by any other motto as he has helped propel the Bruins (51-17-10) to a clinched no. 1 spot in the East and one of the best seasons enjoyed by the Boston team.
But this lineup of skilled hockey players is not going to let a recent hot streak (six in a row) allow them to cool their jets.
“We can’t just let up, especially this time of the year, before playoffs,” Krejci said yesterday after practice in Wilmington's Ristuccia Memorial Arena. “We want to go in the right direction and build as much as we can for the first round [of the playoffs].”
And being only a handful of points behind the league’s first-place Sharks, there is a prize looming over the horizon: the Presidents’ Trophy.
Of course it wasn’t always so easy. A few weeks back, the soaring B’s squad saw a slump that had many of the players (and fans) questioning just where that tenacity had gone, and when it was going to come back.
Now that the grit is back, the question is whether it will be sustained for the time when it will matter most.
“Clinching the conference is a great achievement, [but] at the same time we’re playing for the playoffs,” forward Patrice Bergeron
said Saturday night. “We have to still make sure that we’re going in that direction to get to it and to be ready.”
Will they be ready?
“Nobody ever felt really too high or too low, we knew what we had here and we just had to work through it.” - Blake Wheeler
For now, the overwhelming answer seems to be a heartfelt Minnesotan ‘you betcha.’
“I think it just says a lot about our character in this room,” forward Blake Wheeler said after Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers, where his lone goal captured the 1-0 victory. “Nobody ever felt really too high or too low, we knew what we had here and we just had to work through it.”
So the Bruins biggest challenge from here on out just might be in the mirror.
Right wing Michael Ryder would probably agree with that.
The Newfoundland born sniper noted that the Bruins squad doesn’t put too much stock into looking at where other teams stand, just how they are performing during each game.
“We’ve got to look at it as ourselves and what we have to do to get ready for playoffs,” the forward said yesterday. “You play all year and you’re up at the top all year, and we don’t really think about it but it would be nice to maybe try and get as close as we can [to overall no. 1].”
Of course, there is one watchful eye tuned to how the rest of the playoff race is starting to shape up.
|Alex Auld of the Ottawa Senators watches the loose puck against David Krejci of the Boston Bruins |
“I think right now we’re in control; we’re in first place,” head coach Claude Julien said yesterday. “What we can’t control is where other teams are going to finish, but we know where we’re going to finish.
“We’re keeping our eye on all of those [other] teams to kind of give us an idea of how to prepare.”
Prepare they will, but that one lone rule is still probably the motto imprinted on the inside of every eyelid before bed: You play to win. And you play to win big.
Of the playoffs and stretch run, Krejci said, simply, “This is why you play.”