Impending Krejci return provides lineup questions
For the last 72 hours, David Krejci’s progression indicates an impending return to the lineup.
Krejci, who missed the last 10 games while nursing an upper body injury, began his week by joining his teammates for practice on Monday in Wilmington. He took the morning skate during the Bruins trip to Montreal, and 24 hours later, he was participating in contact drills.
There’s been no update on Krejci’s availability for tomorrow when the Bruins host the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. But the last few days are an indication that No. 46 will return to the B’s lineup sooner rather than later.
“It was the first time doing some battle drills, so, you know, sometimes things like that you recover the next day, sometimes it gets sore and sometimes it doesn’t,” Krejci said after Wednesday’s practice on Causeway Street. “The next few hours are going to be big, so I just hope that I can take care of my body.”
Supporting a white practice jersey on Wednesday, Krejci split reps at center with Ryan Spooner alongside Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson. Since Krejci’s injury, Spooner developed some decent chemistry with Eriksson and Beleskey on the team’s second line and made the most of his added playing time. During this 10-game span, the Bruins second round pick in 2010 is averaging upwards of 18 minutes per night while tallying 11 points on two goals and nine assists.
When Krejci returns, he’ll likely join Beleskey and Eriksson on the second line while Spooner will move back to the third line. Regardless, Spooner hopes to use his skillset and improve in other areas of his game — like faceoffs — wherever he’s slated in the lineup.
“At the end of the day, I just have to go out there and just play the same game that I have been, and use my speed and my skill, and help the team win,” Spooner said about being in limbo in regards to his spot in the lineup.
“It’s been a bit of a change going up against guys who are a little more skilled,” Spooner added about his promotion. “There’s been some games where I’ve had some troubles I guess you can say, and that’s just been a bit of a change for me, and the faceoffs have been up and down for me as well. But I think as a whole, I think I’ve played well, and I was excited to go up there and just help out.”
If Spooner doesn’t skate with Beleskey and Eriksson, then who will join him as his linemates? If the rest of the lineup remains status quo, Spooner will center Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes. Or maybe Claude Julien will reunite Spooner and David Pastrnak, who returned last night from his upper body injury and had a goal and an assist while skating with Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo on the fourth line during the B’s 4-1 win in Montreal.
All of Julien’s lineup questions provide a healthy discussion however upon Krejci’s impending return, which also provides stronger depth at center.
“There’s no doubt that we’re stronger down the middle just with the experience that Ryan [Spooner] has had at center,” Julien said.
“When David [Krejci] comes back, he’s such a good centerman, how can he not be stronger, right? But I think Ryan Spooner has taken some great strides since David has been out. So you hope that it makes the team better, and that’s what we talked about: take advantage of the opportunity and make yourself a better player, and that’s exactly what he’s done. So we’ll see where we’re at when the moment arrives with the roster, where everyone fits and where Ryan should go.”
Without Krejci, Spooner helped fill a gap and kept the Bruins above water. With Krejci, Spooner and the rest of the Black and Gold are a much better team.