Cas­sidy hopes the two can click again

Sentinel & Enterprise - - SPORTS - By Steve Con­roy

The Bru­ins were the best team in the NHL in its coron­avirus-trun­cated reg­u­lar sea­son, and not by a small mar­gin.

They won the Pres­i­dents Tro­phy by six points over the clos­est com­peti­tor, the St. Louis Blues, who had played one more game; and led the league in goals against av­er­age (2.39), were se­cond in power-play (25.2%) and third in penalty killing (84.3%).

What is amaz­ing is that they were able to ac­com­plish that with their se­cond and third lines in flux for much of the sea­son. That is at least partly be­cause the chem­istry be­tween se­cond-line cen­ter David Krejci and his left wing Jake DeBrusk was, for what­ever rea­son, not nearly the same as it was in the first two years of the part­ner­ship.

At the time of the stop­page in March, coach Bruce Cas­sidy had split up the two, mov­ing DeBrusk to Char­lie Coyle’s line and cre­at­ing an Ana­heim East line with Krejci skat­ing be­tween re­cently ac­quired for­mer Ducks Nick Ritchie and On­drej Kase.

But with time short to pre­pare his team for the the open­ing round-robin game against the Fly­ers on Aug. 2, Cas­sidy will go with what he knows to start, re­unit­ing DeBrusk with Krejci in the first two days of train­ing camp. The pair­ing may not have the same hand-in­glove fa­mil­iar­ity that the Pa­trice Berg­eron-Brad Marc­hand tan­dem does, but Cas­sidy fig­ured it was worth a try.

He’s not mar­ried to the idea, but he wants to give the pair a chance to rekin­dle the bro­mance, so to speak.

“Some­times ab­sence makes the heart grow fonder, so maybe they’ll re­con­nect af­ter a lit­tle time away. They’ve had good chem­istry in the past,” said Cas­sidy af­ter Day 2 of this twoweek camp. “They’re not Marchie and Bergy sim­ply be­cause they haven’t had the reps or the years of work. And Jake isn’t in Marchie’s cat­e­gory in terms of time in the league and re­sume. Cer­tainly Krech and Bergy are sim­i­lar. You’ve got to give that a lit­tle more time to grow.

“So we’re go­ing to go back to it. If we don’t like what we see in some of the round-robin or prac­tices, then Jake goes back with Coyle and we try prob­a­bly Ritchie (with Krejci) or some­body else. But we’re go­ing to give it a look and see where it’s at. I still think it’s early, un­til we start get­ting into some good 5-on-5 even within our own group, and see how they play against live com­pe­ti­tion, then we’ll see where it leads. We tried dif­fer­ent things be­cause we made deals at the dead­line and tried to get guys in the most com­fort­able po­si­tion. We didn’t feel like we were break­ing up a real hot duo, so it was prob­a­bly as good a time as any to do it. My guess is, if the pause hadn’t hap­pened, we prob­a­bly would have gone back to Krech and DeBrusk at some point af­ter a lit­tle time apart. So we’re do­ing it now.”

Krejci was first paired with DeBrusk in the Ed­mon­ton na­tive’s rookie sea­son two years ago and, last sea­son, they made good on the prom­ise they showed. Krejci tied his ca­reer high in points (20-43-73) and DeBrusk pot­ted 27 goals.

But while each player had good in­di­vid­ual spurts this sea­son, the pair sim­ply didn’t seem to click. They were split up a cou­ple of times dur­ing the sea­son. Krejci wound up with 1330-43 to­tals in 61 games and DeBrusk fin­ished with 19-16-35 in 65 games.

Just two days into camp, Krejci was not ready to ven­ture a guess as to whether the pair­ing can re­gain what it once had.

“Right now it’s just about get­ting up to speed,” said Krejci. “It’s re­ally good to be out there with the guys in prac­tices and just be­ing out there, feel­ing the puck. I feel like in the next week or two we’ll be work­ing on some things as a line and as a team. That’ll come. But right now I think the most im­por­tant thing is to just get up to speed, get the com­pete level up and go from there.”

It would also help to get the full ros­ter into camp. David Pas­tr­nak and On­drej Kase missed their se­cond straight day to ful­fill their quar­an­tine

obli­ga­tions. While Past­nak will go back with Berg­eron and Marc­hand, Kase could well wind up on Krejci’s right side.

“I think there are lots of pos­si­bil­i­ties,” said Krejci. “Hon­estly, we didn’t get as many games as we would have liked to be­cause of the virus go­ing around and ev­ery­one knows (Kase) hasn’t been there (Mon­day and Tues­day) be­cause of the NHL rules on the quar­an­tine for 14 days. Hope­fully he’ll be back soon and we can get some reps as a line and cre­ate some chem­istry.”

With real games a lit­tle less than three weeks away, time is of the essence.


David Krejci, right, drinks from a wa­ter bot­tle dur­ing prac­tice on Tues­day at War­rior Ice Arena.

Bruce Cas­sidy speaks to the team dur­ing prac­tice Tues­day. He said he is in­clined to put Jake DeBrusk to the left of David Krejci be­cause they have had suc­cess to­gether be­fore and there is not much time be­tween now and the re­sump­tion of the sea­son on Aug. 2.

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