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Krejci eager for more goals and Cups in Boston

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins center David Krejci has averaged 0.75 points per game in his 504-game NHL career. But now that he's been granted a raise, he's thinking about doing things to raise that scoring average.

Krejci, who could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer, last week signed a six-year extension that will begin in 2015-16 and carry an annual salary-cap charge of $7.25 million through 2021. He spoke about his new contract for the first time at TD Garden on Monday.

"I do want to score more goals, that's for sure," said Krejci, whose cap charge this season is $5.25 million in the last year of a three-year contract. "Not necessarily because I signed a new deal, but just because I want to get better every year. And that's my goal: Get more goals and help the team to win more games, get in the good spot, in the good position before the playoffs and go from there."

Krejci, 28, scored 19 goals last season and had a career-high 23 in 2011-12. However, he was shut out in 12 games during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After leading all players in postseason scoring in 2011 and 2013, Krejci was limited to four assists in the Bruins' disappointing run. From winning the Presidents' Trophy in the regular season to losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round, the Bruins came up well short of their goals.

With business taken care of and only hockey to worry about in the season ahead and six seasons beyond, Krejci is eager to make up for the failures of 2014.

"It was disappointing. But it happens," Krejci said of failing to get past the Canadiens. "You need a little luck to go all the way. When we won it, we had a little luck, a couple times in Game 7 and when we went to the Final we had a little luck as well. That didn't happen, but I've put it behind me. It's a new season. So I'm ready, I'm excited and I can't wait for the season to come."

The only positive from the early end to the Bruins' 2013-14 season was that some of the team's best players got some extra rest. Krejci, center Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Zdeno Chara and others not only logged major minutes for the Bruins, they also represented their countries in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

In the aftermath of the loss to the Canadiens, Krejci talked about having a full summer to recover and train, as opposed to the short offseason after Boston's run to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Back in Boston with a little more than a week before the official start of training camp, Krejci said that if he's not in the best shape possible, he's close.

It will be important that conditioning not become an issue as Krejci and his longtime left wing Milan Lucic attempt to find a new right wing. Jarome Iginla skated on the right side of Lucic and Krejci last season and shared the team lead with 30 goals; Krejci led the team with 69 points. But like Nathan Horton before him, Iginla departed as an unrestricted free agent, signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

The leading candidate at the start of camp to replace Iginla will be Loui Eriksson, who scored 36 goals in 2008-09 for the Dallas Stars. Eriksson was limited to 10 goals in 61 games during his first season with Boston in 2013-14 because of injuries and other factors that hindered his adjustment to his new team. The chance to break in a new right wing has Krejci eager to get started.

"We'll see what happens. But chemistry you can create pretty fast and if you have the right guy, a guy who listens, who likes to know what's going on, how you play, then it could be easy," Krejci said. "And we played a couple games with Loui last year, and I like playing with him. He's a great player, he can pass the puck and I feel if I play with him I'll get even more goals because he's a great passer. But we'll see what happens. Obviously I'm excited. I would love to play with him, but we'll see how camp goes and go from there."

Bergeron, a two-time winner of the Selke Trophy as the League's best defensive forward, matched Iginla with 30 goals. If Krejci can boost his goal total close to that level, he'll make the argument about whether he or Bergeron is the Bruins' No. 1 center a little more heated. Although Bergeron has more awards, Krejci has consistently produced more offense. And last season Krejci beat out Bergeron with a League-best plus-39 rating. Starting in 2015-16, Krejci will be the Bruins' highest-paid player.

Bergeron's not putting up too much of a fight for the more glorious designation.

"I don't know, ask [Krejci]. I think [Krejci] is," Bergeron said to a question about who's the No. 1 center. "That's how it's always been for a while. We don't necessarily create numbers. I don't really care to be honest with you. I think we all try to push ourselves and be better as lines and to contribute together as a team, as lines to help the team. So I think that's really all that matters."

That friendly competition has been a huge factor in the Bruins becoming perennial championship contenders the past several seasons. It's also helped that they've been able to retain their core players at reasonable prices, with Krejci, Bergeron, Chara and goaltender Tuukka Rask all signed through at least 2019. The plan is for the Bruins to be among the elite teams for the duration of Krejci's contract, and the Czech Republic native would be delighted if the next seven years play out just as he always planned.

"I want to win. And I really hope and I think that we have the team to make a run, not just this year but the next few years," Krejci said. "And seven years from now if we'll have what we're trying to achieve, then it's going to be an easier decision to go back home. I wanted always wanted to finish my career back home in my hometown. That would be a way easier decision. But if not, then I would have to think twice about my next move.

"But that's the reason why I signed here. I believe we can win here, not once, but more times. So it's just up to us here and we'll see what happens. Seven years is a long way from now and I don't want to look too much ahead."

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