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Bruins' Krejci again becoming a postseason beast

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has the same effect on David Krejci as the appearance of the full moon on a werewolf.

Both turn into a whole different sort of beast.

For the second time in three seasons, Krejci has been unstoppable in the playoffs. He's accumulated League highs of five goals and 10 points while leading the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Game 5 is Friday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS).

"I'm just trying to go out there and do my best, try not to think too much and just trying to come through," Krejci said Thursday, one day after he capped a hat trick with an overtime goal in Toronto in Game 4.

There's an all-round quality to Krejci's game this postseason that's similar to the one he showed in 2011, when he helped Boston win the Stanley Cup with 23 points in 25 games. He's a plus-7, and although he's won 41.7 percent of his draws for the series, he won 60 percent in Game 4.

Bruins coach Claude Julien knows everyone is looking for a reason why Krejci, who totaled 33 points in 47 games this season and averages 0.73 points per game in 424 career regular-season games, doesn't perform the same way in the regular season as he does in the playoffs, when he raises his scoring total to 0.90 points per game.

"Some people like playing in these situations, and we've seen those in the past from other players on other teams," Julien said. "He [Krejci] is a playoff performer; he loves the intensity, the excitement of it. He comes up big in those kinds of situations. It's always nice to have those kinds of players on your team, and so far David's always been a good playoff performer for us. It's a good thing he's on our team."

Krejci always is quick to defer credit to his linemates, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. The forwards have played together when healthy for most of the past three seasons. Horton started the play that led to Krejci's winning goal in Game 4 by chipping the puck out of the defensive zone while getting knocked off his skates by Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Lucic's net drive allowed Krejci the room he needed to get his shot past goaltender James Reimer.

It's been that way ever since the Bruins acquired Horton from the Florida Panthers in June 2010  then learned Marc Savard was battling post-concussion syndrome. Julien moved Krejci from the third line to the top line between the two bulky forwards, and they've become one of the League's most formidable groups.

"I don't think we really clicked right away," Krejci said. "I obviously knew what [Lucic] could do. I knew what kind of player [Horton] was playing against him, but you appreciate his skills way more when you play with him or you just see him in practice. He's got great hockey sense. Maybe he's a little underrated in this area. So it's just fun playing with those two guys."

Without Horton last spring, Krejci scored three points in Boston's seven-game loss to the Washington Capitals in the first round. This season the trio struggled individually -- Krejci was inconsistent, Lucic scored seven goals, and Horton finished with 22 points. The line occasionally was broken up. Then the playoffs started and Julien created a reunion.

Lucic and Horton might be doing more of the dirty work, but Krejci is the one orchestrating everything and turning the postseason into his personal playground.

"He does everything," Horton said of Krejci. "People say he's a great passer. He can score goals, he's playing defense, he's hitting. I think he's doing everything, and that makes him a special player. He's really showing everyone how special he really is."

The playoffs are special, so there's no better time for a special player to shine.

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