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Bruins' Krejci week-to-week with upper-body injury

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins center David Krejci is week-to-week with an upper-body injury, coach Claude Julien said Monday after practice at TD Garden.

Krejci was injured in a collision with Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan near the end of the second period of the Senators' 3-1 home win on Sunday. Krejci did not play in the third period. Shortly after his teammates left the ice here Monday, Krejci left the arena with his right arm in a sling.

He was placed on injured reserve, so he will not be available to the Bruins when they host the Montreal Canadiens in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Friday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Krejci is tied for the Bruins lead with 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists). His 0.94 points per game is a career best and he's their leader among forwards with a career-high 20:16 of ice time per night.

"It's definitely a huge loss for us," said center Ryan Spooner, who practiced in Krejci's usual spot between wings Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson. "He's a huge player for us. So I think as a team, though, when that kind of thing happens you just get together as a group and you just say that it's a challenge and you have to accept it, and that's what we're going to do."

The Bruins learned last season how difficult it is to succeed without Krejci, who missed 35 games with an undisclosed injury and a knee injury. Even when Krejci was in the lineup, he was never 100 percent healthy. He finished with seven goals and 25 assists in 47 games.

Boston went 16-13-6 without Krejci and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight years. The Bruins' 96 points were the most by any non-playoff team in NHL history, but they especially missed Krejci at the offensive end, as they ranked 22nd in goals per game (2.55) and 18th in power-play success (17.8 percent).

This season with Krejci in the lineup the Bruins were third in scoring (3.03 goals per game) and first on the power play (81.3). Both Krejci and defenseman Torey Krug, who's out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, are currently missing from the top power-play unit.

The Bruins know they can't replace Krejci, but they're hoping they have enough depth to overcome his absence.

"I don't think that we have a player that exactly can bring what David brings," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "But I think there are players that definitely can contribute with their work ethic and commitment, and I think that everybody has to step up. There is only one David Krejci, and nobody's asking anybody else to copy him. We've just got to focus on what we can do as a team."

Krejci is the third Bruins center currently on injured reserve. Chris Kelly is out for the season with a fractured left femur. Joonas Kemppainen has been out since Dec. 7 with an upper-body injury. He recently started skating and conditioning work.

Spooner, who has 91 games of NHL experience, will get the first chance to fill in for Krejci. This season the 23-year-old has eight goals and 14 assists in 35 games. Spooner found success last season while Krejci was out centering Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak. As a rookie, Spooner had eight goals and 10 assists in 29 games.

"I'm excited for the challenge," Spooner said. "I think for me I just need to be confident in myself, use my skill and my speed, and at the same time just make sure that I'm good in my own end. If I focus on that first I think the offense will come."

With Spooner moved up the depth chart, Landon Ferraro figures to get more ice time centering the third line. Ferraro has three goals and four assists in 16 games this season for the Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Veteran Max Talbot, who has one goal in 14 games, could also see his role expanded, especially on the penalty kill. Krejci has averaged 1:29 of shorthanded ice time this season.

Julien did not rule out the possibility of a call-up from Providence of the American Hockey League in the next couple days. David Pastrnak should be back from playing for the Czech Republic in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship within a week.

"This is an opportunity for us again to show some character and go in there and find ways to win hockey games and find ways to continue to compete," Julien said.

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