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Bruins' Krejci underrated but can 'eat you alive' - 05-30-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

When scanning the Bruins' roster plenty of names jump out at you.

-Future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr stands out in any context, especially when he plays the Penguins franchise he used to captain.
-All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara looms over everyone simply because at 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, he's the biggest player in NHL history.
-Just by the nature of his position, goaltender Tuukka Rask will always get a lot of attention good or bad.
-Selke Trophy-winning Patrice Bergeron merits plenty of accolades for his splendid all-around play.
-Agitating scorer Brad Marchand will elicit plenty of responses, positive and negative.
-Even middling rookie defenseman Torrey Krug is getting plenty of hype for finding a way to score four goals in his first five career playoff games.

Somewhere lost in the shuffle is David Krejci (above) who merely leads all postseason scorers with 17 points, one more than Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

Positioned at center on a line between power forwards Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, Krejci has been one of the Bruins' steadiest producers in recent seasons. But despite the fact Krejci led the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins in scoring and that he's one of only four players with 50 or more postseason points this decade, he simply doesn't get a ton of attention league-wide and often even gets overshadowed by his teammates.

Perhaps if he offered a better quote from time to time of if he had a "cooler" jersey number than the clunky 46 he currently sports, his star would shine a little brighter. But regardless of how high or low of a profile Krejci has, he's a pretty talented and dangerous player as evidenced by his numbers. Today, two members of the Penguins who are expected to face Krejci quite a bit in five-on-five and special teams situations talked about how to defend him.

What's the scouting report on Krejci?

Brooks Orpik, defenseman - "I skated with him a bunch during the lockout so I saw him up close and personal. He’s a really highly skilled guy. He holds the puck that second longer than most guys. You watch him play, he never just throws the puck away. There’s always a purpose with the puck decision he makes. He’s obviously the pivot between [Horton and Lucic] that are more power forward type guys. Obviously he’s scored a lot in the playoffs. I think he’s more of a playmaker than he is a goal scorer. He’s had a good playoffs. That’s for sure so far."

Brandon Sutter, center - "He’s quick. Very shifty. Very good with the puck. A guy you’ve got to stay tight to and stay in his face because he’s shifty. He’s definitely a playmaker. Makes passes and makes plays a lot guys don’t make. We’ve got to try and take away time and space away from him and try to be physical but he’s going to make plays. We’ve just got to limit how good they are."

It might be odd to say things about the leading scorer in the postseason, but is he underrated?

Orpik - "Yeah. I think just the style he plays. He’s not overly fast. He doesn’t really jump out you. I think he’s a guy you have to watch more and more to really appreciate him. It’s kind of how [Paul Martin] is when he plays defense. You can watch him once or twice and not notice him. He’s so efficient in how he plays. The more you see him, the more you appreciate him. He’s one of those guys who slows the game down too. He not one of those guys who flies around. For us against him, having a good gap on him is crucial. If you give up the blue line on him, that’s where he cuts back and he finds late guys and he finds that second wave coming. That’s where he can really eat you alive. Make him make plays before the blue line, that’s the best way to slow him down I think."

Sutter (right) - "He is. They have some top-end players on their team and he’s definitely one of them from a talent and skill standpoint. He’s pretty good defensively too. He’s a an all-around player. If you look at [Bruins center Patrice] Bergeron and him, they’re both guys who are very [offensive] players but they’re good in their end too. That’s a whole other challenge. Quick, shifty and he’s got a good shot too so he’s definitely a well-balance player."

Do his wingers defend him from a physical standpoint?

Orpik - Yeah. I think they’re all pretty close too off the ice so I think that has a lot to do with it. But if you watch any of their games, anyone who goes near Krejci, you just see Lucic a second behind him. That’s probably why he sees as much space as he does. It’s not like he creates space for himself by being physical. Just having those two guys, their presence, probably opens things up for him.

Sutter - I think obviously physicality is part of the game. It doesn’t matter who you’re hitting or who you’re playing against. You’ve got to be physical no matter who’s on the ice. Obviously they have some big bodies but you still want to play him hard and check him hard. First and foremost for me, it’s more about body positioning than it is about trying to run someone over. The three of them are all good players so you don’t want to focus too much on one of them.

Do you consider Krejci's line the first or second line or is it more of a "1A" line?

Orpik - "I think it’s kind how we saw [the Flyers last year]. They had like three first lines. It was impossible to say which one was first, second or third. I don’t think you look at [Bruins forward] Tyler Seguin as a third liner but when he’s not going, he moves down. When he’s going, he moves up. … I think it’s really just who’s hot for them. I don’t think they don’t have that one line that really jumps out to you. All four [lines] are pretty good.”

Sutter - "I don’t really know. If you look at this series, both teams kind of have two [scoring] lines that you don’t really know who’s one and who’s two. In terms of matchups, I’m not too sure what’s going to happen … but I kind of expect to play against one of them two, especially at home here."

What does Krejci offer the power play?

Orpik - "He’s usually the half-wall guy. He’s more of a playmaker. He really slows things down. He never panics with the puck. He really controls the pace of the whole power play. He likes finding guys in the slot for that high-tip play. You’ve seen him, especially in the [quarterfinal series against the Maple Leafs], he’s got a good one-timer from that off side."

Sutter - "Again, just shiftiness with the puck. He likes to have the puck. He’s very decisive. He gets the puck and you’re not really sure where he’s going to pass it. He’s good at looking it off and going the other way. We’ve just got to be patient on him and force him into mistakes."

(Photos: Krejci-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Sutter-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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