The Montreal Canadiens beat the Bruins in seven games in the second round, and Krejci blamed himself for the team’s premature exodus from the postseason. He stood in the Bruins’ locker room on exit day Friday, sporting a Red Sox hat and still hadn’t shaved off his playoff beard.
“It’s been really tough,” Krejci said. “I haven’t slept much the past couple of days. I didn’t even feel like shaving. So it’s going to be tough. But time heals and I’m going to get away from hockey for a few weeks right now and try to forget about this disappointment. But obviously it’s tough. But it is what it is.”
Krejci is known for being the type of player who performs when it counts. The more pressure he faces, the better he gets. He’s done it his entire career at every level -- except this postseason. In 12 playoff games, he registered only four assists, including a minus-3 rating. As the team’s regular-season leader in points with 19 goals and 50 assists for 69 points, Krejci was held without a goal in the playoffs.
“I thought I had a pretty consistent season the whole year,” he said. “And I guess then I was still getting some chances. I felt like I had some strong games. But at the end of the day when the puck doesn’t go in the net, that’s all that matters.
“It was just bad timing. I didn’t get through it. I tried my best but it didn’t happen. So it was frustrating at times. Now it’s disappointing. But it is what it is. It’s going to be tough the next few days, but hopefully I’ll get through it.”
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Krejci had 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 25 games. In 2013, the Bruins returned to the finals before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, and again Krejci was a point producer. He registered nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 22 games.
This spring, Krejci couldn’t find the back off the net or the tape on his linemates’ sticks.
“He’s been such a great player for us for so long, and he’s been such a great playoff performer for so long. Everyone goes through slumps and I definitely don’t feel like he let us down,” linemate Milan Lucic said of Krejci. “It’s a team game. We win together and we lose together.
“Obviously it feels like he’s pretty hard on himself. He’s allowed to be if he wants to be, but at the end of the day, he’s been my centerman for four or five years now. We’ve always had each other’s backs, and we’ve had success over the last few years. Sometimes it just doesn’t go for you. You have to have the type of attitude where you don’t accept losing. You don’t accept failure, and you hope that it motivates you moving forward.”
Prior to Game 6 in Montreal, Krejci all but guaranteed he would snap out of his slump and produce. He never lacks confidence. But he didn’t break through in Game 6, or Game 7. The Bruins lost and Krejci took it hard.
Always the optimist, Krejci did find one positive aspect to the team’s early exit. The fact that he’ll have a longer summer to rest, heal and prepare properly for the 2014-15 season.
“I know it’s been only a couple of days, but I’ve been thinking about the good thing is that I’ll have a long summer and I never had a summer like this before,” he said. “So I’m going to take some time off and I’m going to train just like I never trained. I never had that time. And I feel that the time off is going to help me and I’m going to come back as a better player.”
Even though Krejci took most of the blame for the loss, his teammates bore no ill will toward him. If anything, the Bruins believe this is just another example, another learning experience to dwell on during the summer and help motivate them for another run toward the Stanley Cup.
“It’s hockey. It’s life,” Krejci said. “Ups and downs are going to happen. So hopefully this is going to make us stronger. No one knows what’s going to happen in September, with the moves and stuff like that. But you feel like the team had a chance to go all the way. So we’ll see what happens.”