|David Krejci is surrounded by his teammates after scoring the Bruins’ first goal. He’d add another, and two assists. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)|
Sharp Krejci able to regain his edge
PHILADELPHIA — Drawing first blood in a series between teams that thrive on coming from behind means nothing, David Krejci and the Bruins will be the first to tell you.
So even leaving last year’s epic collapse out of the equation, they’re taking nothing for granted after pouncing on leaky Flyers goalie Brian Boucher early and often in yesterday’s 7-3 Game 1 romp to open this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
But it sure beats the alternative, as Krejci — held to a single point as the Bruins squeaked past Montreal in the first round — busted loose for two goals and two assists to lead the onslaught that sent Boucher to a second-period shower.
Linemate Nathan Horton’s tiebreaking goal just 36 seconds before the end of the first period triggered a four-goal barrage over the next 17:50, delighting coach Claude Julien.
“It was nice to see that line do well,’’ said Julien. “They obviously had some challenges that last series, but [today] they were a real solid line. They did their job and did it well.’’
Especially the just-turned-25-year-old Krejci, who has his own nightmares about facing the Flyers last year, having missed most of the series when he dislocated his wrist courtesy of Mike Richards in Game 3 here. That forced him to watch while the Flyers became the first NHL club since the Islanders in 1975 to overcome an 0-3 deficit, which the opposition was quick to remind him of when he stepped on the ice yesterday.
“Obviously the guys from the other team let me know in the first period,’’ said Krejci, who got things going for the Bruins at the 1:52 mark, then set up Horton to make it 2-1. “There was yapping back and forth, so you’ve got to stay focused.
“I tried not to think about what happened last year, but it was in the back of my head. You don’t forget something like that.’’
Of more immediate concern was forgetting the way the Canadiens shut him and the rest of his line down, with the crucial exception of Horton’s two game-winners in overtime, including in the climactic seventh game.
“I know I didn’t produce that much,’’ said Krejci, who atoned for a giveaway in front of Tim Thomas by blocking a point-blank shot after the Flyers had cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-3. “But I still thought my line played pretty well.
“We had good chances but just didn’t bury them. That was a tough series for us, but we bounced back today.’’
With the 6-foot, 177-pound center from the Czech Republic leading the way.
“He is a special player,’’ said Horton. “We want him to have the puck as much as possible and he creates so much off of that and he gives everyone else a chance to score and be in the play. He definitely played amazing.’’
Just getting Krejci away from the Flying Frenchmen seemed to make all the difference in the world to his coach.
“Montreal put their best players against that line and made it tough for him,’’ said Julien. “This team we’re playing now is very similar to ours. They’re big, strong, and physical, so this is more of a series going head-to-head.’’
While Krejci tried his best to play down a memorable performance, Julien hopes it signifies the start of something big.
“He’s a very quiet kid but a very determined individual,’’ said Julien, who had to be thrilled getting seven goals considering his team has yet to connect on the power play in the postseason. “There’s times when he puts so much pressure on himself it doesn’t always help him.
“Hopefully this game today will really help him and keep him going that way.’’
But remember, it’s only one game, something Krejci and the rest of the Bruins — having just climbed out of an 0-2 hole themselves for the first time in franchise history — know all too well.
Because the only blood that truly matters is the last.