Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
When David Krejci's 2009-10 season ended last year on May 5, his Boston Bruins seemed to be well on their way to a berth in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bruins had built a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series with Philadelphia, but Krejci suffered a season-ending injury in Game 3, and with him out of the lineup the Flyers rattled off four straight wins to pull off the historic comeback.
With a dislocated right wrist, all Krejci could do was watch as his club became just the third team in NHL history to lose a series after leading 3-0.
This time around, the Bruins forward is making the most of his opportunity and he has been one of the biggest reasons Boston is ahead two-games-to-none in this year's East semifinals rematch with the Flyers.
After posting just one goal in Boston's seven games against Montreal in the opening round, Krejci has easily been the Bruins most dominant offensive player in the first two games against Philadelphia. Krejci, a 25-year-old Czech, notched two goals and two assists in leading Boston to a 7-3 blowout win in Game 1 and he scored the overtime game-winner in the second meeting on Monday.
"He is playing unbelievable," fellow Bruins forward Brad Marchand said of Krejci. "You saw in the first series how many opportunities he was getting and they weren't going in. Every time he is on the ice, he is a threat. He always seems to make something happen when he is out there. He's coming out huge for a team right now in both games."
David Krejci has easily been the Bruins most dominant offensive player in the first two games against Philadelphia.
The Flyers' defense definitely did a better job of containing Krejci in Game 2, but the centerman still delivered the winner on a one-timer around the 14- minute mark of overtime. The puck was in and out of the net so quickly that the goal was initially waved off before replays eventually confirmed Krejci's important tally.
"I wanted to get a good one-timer and it worked," said Krejci. "I thought it was in but then they kept playing so I just wanted to finish up on the shift and then the ref took a look at it and it was in."
It's hard to point to one reason why the Bruins collapsed in last year's postseason meeting with the Flyers, but Krejci's absence had to contribute to Boston's downfall. He was injured in last year's series after a crushing hit by Philadelphia captain Mike Richards.
This time around Krejci seems driven to make the most of his time on the ice. If he can continue to be a dominant force in this series it's hard to imagine Boston blowing a 2-0 lead, let alone a three-games-to-none advantage.
"He is capable of playing the way we have seen him on a daily basis," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said of Krejci. "I think he has been motivated to play in this series, obviously with what happened to him last year. He seems like a determined player."
But, Krejci isn't the only Bruin making up for lost time, as goaltender Tim Thomas and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg are also relishing in a chance to have a say against the team that caused Boston so much suffering last spring.
After winning the Vezina Trophy for the 2008-09 season, Thomas lost his starting job to Tuukka Rask during the following regular season. Rask wound up seeing all the time in the playoffs, starting the 13 games. He did an admirable job, going 7-6 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .912 save percentage, but Thomas, who was hampered by a hip injury last season, has been a difference maker in net.
Thomas stopped 31-of-34 shots in Boston's Game 1 victory and stole a win for the Bruins in the second meeting, stopping 52 shots in the OT win. The 37- year-old made 32 saves from the start of the third period to the time Krejci potted the winner in Game 2.
Seidenberg, a former Flyer, is often overlooked on the Boston blue line due to the immense presence of Zdeno Chara, but not having him for the entire playoffs last year due to an injury was a big loss for the Bruins. He had two assists in Game 1 against the Flyers and has an amazing plus-seven rating through the first two contests.
After last year's historic comeback, the Flyers have earned the right to not be counted out this early in a series. However, it's also impossible to ignore the fact that players like Krejci, Thomas and Seidenberg are casting big shadows this time around after not getting to contribute fully, or at all, to Boston's playoff run a year ago.
Those players, especially Krejci, are playing with a chip on their shoulders and seem hell-bent on making sure there are no historic meltdowns in Boston's near future.
But, as many current Bruins can attest to, it can be a long and winding road to four wins. With the way he is playing so far in this series, Krejci is helping make that trip seem a whole lot shorter.