A handful of Bruins embarked on a big afternoon during Monday’s tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers.
David Pastrnak potted two goals to maintain his 60-goal pace. Jeremy Swayman recorded his first shutout of the season. Pavel Zacha, fresh off signing his four-year contract extension, tallied two goals and one assist.
But the day belonged to David Krejci. The veteran centerman suited up for the 1,000th time and led a Czeching line clinic during the first 40 minutes of Boston’s 6-0 rout.
The reunited Zacha-Krejci-Pastrnak trio combined for four goals and five assists for nine points in one of the largest Bruins’ victories of the season.
“Defenseman and forwards were playing tonight, real cohesively,” head coach Jim Montgomery said afterward. “That led to a lot of goals…I think when we’re playing like that, our habits and details, we’re a lot to handle.”
Matt Grzelcyk, Brad Marchand, and Charlie McAvoy also recorded multi-point outings. Swayman improved to 5-0-2 in his last seven starts and increased his save percentage to an impressive .936 over that stretch.
“I think it’s nine starts now where he’s played well, Montgomery said about Swayman’s recent stretch. “I think we have the best tandem in the league.”
Here’s what we learned as the Czech trio led the Bruins to their latest victory.
Krejci delivers vintage performance in milestone game
As someone who all-too-often flies under the radar, Krejci took his deserved spot on center stage in Monday’s matinee.
Krejci figured in each of his lines’ tallies, recording three assists on goals from Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak during the Bruins’ rout of the surging Flyers.
The holiday matinee marked the longtime Bruin’s 1,000th NHL game, all of which have taken place in a Bruins sweater. As just the seventh player in franchise history to accomplish the milestone, Krejci continues to further carve himself into Bruins’ history.
“[Boston’s] been my home,” Krejci said. “I’m very thankful and grateful that [the Bruins] gave me a call in the summer.”
It was all too fitting for Krejci, who has quietly endured a carousel of wingers, to punctuate another consistent season.
Krejci’s decision to return on a team-friendly deal, the only agreement on which Boston could afford his services, allowed him a chance to reach his latest milestone. In turn, the NHL’s second-highest-scoring team continues to benefit from Krejci’s elite prowess on the second line.
“He wasn’t going to come back and play unless it was with the Bruins,” Montgomery said. “I think the only reason we’re an elite team in this league is because he came back. Not the only reason, but a huge factor in that.”
Krejci’s latest accolade provided a necessary emotional lift
Heading into Monday’s tilt with John Tortorella bunch, the Bruins hoped to avoid the proverbial letdown two days after such an emotionally-taxing win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Montgomery’s club avoided that proverbial trap game with a consistent 60-minute effort. The Bruins rode the momentum from their playoff-like victory over their Original Six rivals with a strong wire-to-wire outing two days later.
They used Krejci’s 1,000th game as motivation. After all, they wanted a locker room favorite to fully cherish his special day with another win.
“No question in [Krejci’s] 1,000th game, I think a lot of players have so much respect for him,” Montgomery said. “Rightfully so. He’s a Bruins legend, and he showed why tonight. He makes everyone around him better.”
“That’s what elite players do,” Montgomery said. “They make everybody want to play with them because they played the game the right way and they support you everywhere.”
Zacha finds scoring touch following his contract extension
The snakebitten Zacha encountered another rough moment in Boston’s thrilling win over the Maple Leafs after he found iron on a wide-open net during a 2-on-1 rush with Hampus Landholm.
Even though the offseason acquisition encountered his struggles producing consistent goal-scoring, Zacha continued to rack up assists alongside Pastrnak while providing a terrific 200-foot game. But two days removed from signing a four-year, $19 million contract extension, Zacha had no problems finding the net.
“With Zacha, I guess if you signed for $18 million or whatever it was, you put a little more pep in your step, shoot the puck more,” Montgomery said. “Hoping it gives him a shot first mentality more often, because he does have a great release and he does shoot the puck heavy.”
Now with Zacha in the fold for at least four more years at a team-friendly value, the Bruins can now consider themselves outright winners of the one-for-one summer swap of Zacha and Erik Haula. Haula provided a steady hand last season as a short-term fill-in on the second line, but Zacha provides his new club with another well-rounded top-six forward in the present.
Zacha’s versatility will only prove beneficial down the road as a potential first or second-line center option in Boston.
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