Commentary

David Krejci's absence will test Bruins

Updated: November 8, 2010, 9:23 PM ET
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Everything seemed to be lining up for the Boston Bruins last May when they took a 3-0 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The only downer of Boston's 4-1 win at Philadelphia was that center David Krejci suffered a dislocated right wrist, meaning his season was over.

Little did the Bruins know at the time that they wouldn't win a single game without Krejci, unable to finish off the Flyers in suffering a historic collapse.

[+] EnlargeDavid Krejci
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonDavid Krejci is helped off the ice Saturday after suffering what the team is calling a moderate concussion on a hit by the Blues' T.J. Oshie.

The Bruins again will have to try to figure out how to win without Krejci, who will miss at least a week after suffering what general manager Peter Chiarelli termed a "moderate" concussion on Saturday. Chiarelli said on Monday that Krejci will be re-evaluated Tuesday.

With the season in full swing -- including five games over the course of a week starting Wednesday at Pittsburgh -- there is no time for the Bruins to dwell on the loss of Krejci, not to mention the continuing absences of center Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome), winger Marco Sturm (knee) and defenseman Johnny Boychuk (broken forearm). The core of this team has proved it can overcome adversity and will have to do so again starting with a back-to-back set against the Penguins and the Bruins' archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens..

"It's definitely a big loss when you lose one of your better forwards," coach Claude Julien acknowledged after practice Monday. "But again, my answers seem repetitive, but we've been through it before. We've dealt with those situations before and we'll continue to deal with them. This is a team game and everybody has to buckle down and compensate for that loss and I think we're capable of doing that."

The productivity of Krejci and linemates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, who are the top three scorers on the team, could make this the toughest test yet.

Still, Chiarelli also seemed confident the Bruins would be all right, citing the way the players kept going after the Boychuk injury last month and throughout the injury-riddled season of 2009-10.

Asked how he expected his team to handle this latest dose of adversity, Chiarelli said, "Pretty well. With Johnny out, I thought Adam [McQuaid] came in and did well. Adversity this year compared to what we dealt with last year is nothing. So I'd like to think that they're a little hardened that way. I think they're going to handle it well."

Center Patrice Bergeron was practicing in Krejci's spot on the top line Monday and is expected to be there when the Bruins take on the Penguins at the Consol Energy Center on Wednesday. For Bergeron, who himself battled back from a Grade 3 concussion that forced him to miss most of the 2007-08 season and then a Grade 2 concussion the following season, dealing with major injuries has almost become the norm.

"It's just more adversity that you deal with over a year and he [Krejci] has been playing great. I don't know how long he's going to be out, but while he is we all have to step up," Bergeron said. "It's not about one guy, it's about everyone finding a way to chip in and find a way to get the two points every night."

Bergeron is sincere with his promise to persevere, but he's also willing to face the hard truth that this latest injury could be hard to overcome, with the forward corps already stretched thin.

"Having another center like him is huge because he's a good part of our offense but also our overall play," Bergeron said. "He creates out there and he opens up ice. But any teammate that you lose, there's always something missing and always a void there that you have to fill and we need to find a way to do that."

Ironically one of the main topics surrounding the Bruins during the offseason, prior to Savard announcing he was suffering from post-concussion syndrome, was what the Bruins would do with all their centers. With top draft pick Tyler Seguin coming into the fold, many pundits speculated that with the Bruins' depth up the middle, trading a center would be the most logical way to solve the team's salary-cap issues. Savard's name came up in trade rumors but the Bruins are probably happy they didn't trade him or any other centers now.

"I don't think it's ever a problem to have this much depth in the middle," Bergeron said. "It does help in these situations but it also helps when we're healthy. But now with Savvy [Savard] and Kretch [Krejci] out, we'll need to use that depth."

The Bruins will need to use that depth and whatever else has helped them overcome adversity in the past. The true identity of the 2010-11 Bruins is about to be revealed.

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

James Murphy

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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