Sunday, November 6, 2011
Mailbag: Why the slow start for Krejci?
By James Murphy
In this latest mailbag we look at David Krejci's slow start, Milan Lucic's improved play, the possibility of the Bruins making a trade and more. Also, don't forget to send in your questions for our next mailbag.
Q: I know he was hurt for a few games, but I've been really unimpressed with Krejci this season. Do you think it's just health or is there more to it? What are you seeing from him? -- Kelly T (Boston)
A: Kelly, David Krejci is definitely off to a slow start and has been a bit of an enigma so far. Yes, he broke out for three points in the 7-0 win over Toronto but overall you're correct, he has not looked like the Krejci that had 23 points in 25 playoff games during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run. Coming into that game he had just one point in eight contests. One thing I have noticed is that Krejci isn't doing the things he usually does to enable himself to utilize his offensive skills. Krejci is very underrated when it comes to being strong on the puck and digging it out of the corners or going to the dirty areas. But so far, at least until Saturday, he hadn't been doing those things to put himself into position to succeed. Maybe his big performance against Toronto can turn him in the right direction?
Q: If you were Chiarelli, who are some possible trade targets you'd be paying close attention to? I still think they need to add another forward. I'm just not convinced that either Pouliot or Caron are legit third-line players right now. -- Jerry (Bedford, N.H.)
A: I agree with you on Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron but let's face it, they're not the only ones who have been struggling up front. With the exception of a few games, the Bruins' offense has struggled and I agree that another forward via a trade could help right now. I don't know for sure who Bruins general manager Peter Chairelli is speaking too, but I do know he is making the rounds inquiring about help up front. The one name that has come up a lot is veteran Coyotes forward Ray Whitney. He's off to a fast start with 14 points (six goals and eight assists) in 13 games and would provide an offensive spark. He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and Phoenix could look to shed his salary at some point.
Q: Any chance the Bruins make a run at [Zach] Parise? I think you could start a package with Krejci and throw in a prospect or two and maybe a draft pick and potentially make it work. The Bruins are deep at center and Seguin is proving he can be a top 2 center, so why not get the piece they have been missing; a talented goal scorer for the centers to setup. I know they won without this last year, but having a go to guy would help the power play and take some pressure off guys like Lucic and Horton. We have the cap space to sign him long term and the Devils could use a center, so it could work for both teams. -- Ryan (Washington, D.C.)
A: Yes, I think there's a chance that the Bruins would inquire about and possibly make a pitch for Zach Parise for all the reasons you listed but I don't see a possible deal like that happening until much closer to the the trade deadline. It will depend where the Devils are in the standings and also if they have made any progress toward re-signing him. But you make some great points and it's something to keep an eye on.
Q: Tyler Seguin has been very impressive during the Bs slow start. One nitpick I have is that he seems to be coming down with Craig Janney disease, where he is looking to pass in prime shooting situations. I'm talking about when he breaks in alone close to the net and he seems to want to make a nifty drop pass rather than ripping his shot, which seems to be one of the best on the team. Is this consistent with his play in juniors, was he a pass first shoot second player? -- Keith (Quincy, Mass.)
A: I'll be honest, I didn't watch Seguin a lot in juniors but talking to some reporters who cover the OHL and some scouts that scout that league, Seguin balanced his shooting and passing pretty evenly, but seems to be a playmaker at heart. That being said, since trying to drop a pass back on a breakaway in the 5-3 win over Ottawa last Tuesday, Seguin focused on shooting in practice and it paid off with a hat-trick in the Bruins' 7-0 win over the Leafs on Saturday night.
Q: What is Chris Kelly's contract status? He might not be as flashy on offense as Rich Peverly -- the other trade acquisition last season -- but he's just a solid hockey player. To me he's sort of a light version of Patrice Bergeron -- someone who does a lot of little things that you might not notice unless you're paying attention. Anyway, i'd love to see the Bruins hold onto him. -- Eddie J (Amherst, Mass.)
A: Kelly will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, but according to my sources he and the Bruins are working to keep him in Boston. Based on the fact that he has become an alternate captain already and hasn't even played a full season with the Bruins, it's obvious he has earned the respect of his teammates and he definitely has the respect of Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli. He is such a versatile player and a character guy and the Bruins could definitely use him going forward after this season.
Q: Brad Marchand has cooled off since his fast start to the season. What have you seen from him lately on the ice? -- Sarah G. (Andover, Mass.)
A: I wrote a piece on Marchand recently where he told me that he was trying to veer away from his role as an agitator and become more of a scorer and my conversation had me thinking he is really reevaluating his identity as a player. While that is fine that he wants to rid himself of some of the antics that cause him to take bad penalties, he still needs to play the way he did to get to this level. Claude Julien later said that agitating play is "in his blood," but as Julien also pointed out this may be a case of a player trying to live up to his great rookie season and the new contract he signed. I think as the season goes on, Marchand will find his way. He is too hard a worker not to.
Q: What have you seen from Lucic lately that has turned his game around? Do you think he has any shot at being an All-Star this year? -- Nick (Vermont)
A: Not sure about being an all-star but if he continues to play the way he has since that October 18 loss to Carolina, Milan Lucic will help the Bruins in a big way. Over the last four games, Lucic has three goals and three assists. Lucic is playing his trademark north-south game and driving to the net. He is a physical and offensive presence on the ice. He needs to keep that up to be the same player he was last season when he reached the 30-goal plateau.
Q: The Bruins schedule is front-loaded with home games. Do you think having more early games on the road would have helped this team refocus and gel after a long, wild summer with the cup? -- Josh (Harrisonburg, Va.)
A: I'm right with you on this. Despite the fact that they basically have the same roster back from last season, that usual season-opening road trip they have had for so long could've been the perfect recipe to avoid this Stanley Cup hangover. Those are great chances for a team to bond and it would've dragged the Bruins away from the Stanley Cup hoopla that had surrounded them all summer.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.