A shillelagh (shuh-LAY-lee) is an Irish cane made of oak or blackthorn. It is often associated with good luck and given as a gift. Every week, James Murphy will award "Three Shillelaghs" for the three best stories of the Bruins' week.
The Bruins went 1-0-1 since we last gave out our Three Shillelaghs, beating the Maple Leafs 5-2 on Thursday and then losing 3-2 in overtime to the Islanders on Saturday, despite outshooting the Isles 32-19.
But over the stretch of those two games, a chemistry between players has seemingly resurfaced, one that helped make the Bruins one of the deepest teams up front last season. David Krejci and Michael Ryder have been clicking the way they did last season and it's giving the Bruins a solid 1-2 punch wherever head coach Claude Julien slots them into the lineup. Both Krejci and Ryder get shillelaghs this week.
Taking home the final shillelagh of the week is Mark Recchi, who continues to be a perfect example of the success that can be found when you drive to the net and get into the dirty areas, especially on the power play.
Krejci has been on fire of late and is starting to resemble the player that finished second on the team in scoring last season and was inked to a three-year extension over the summer. Heading into Monday night's tilt with the Flyers, Krejci had a goal and an assist in each of his last two games and five points in his last three games. The crafty Czech pivot got a off to a slow start after missing the preseason while recovering from offseason hip surgery, but he appears to be back in form and ready to help the Bruins make use of their depth up the middle.
"If he got his skating going and his work ethic, those plays become really successful because he has everybody on their heels," Julien said following the Bruins' 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Thursday in which Krejci had a goal and an assist. "He's so good with the puck and has such good vision and good hands that when he [skates hard] with a little more speed, he is hard to stop. When he doesn't do it with speed, he is pretty easy to figure out, and guys know he is trying to look for a play. He's not going to shoot and he's not going to be a threat. When he is skating, he can be both."
Michael Ryder has been notorious for slow starts and being a streaky player, but his slow start had gone on a bit longer than usual this season.
"With Michael, it seems to always be the same thing," Julien said. "He gets off to slow starts and when he finds his game, he is a streaky goal scorer and playmaker. He gets on those hot streaks and he becomes pretty deadly, so we hope that he has found that range and keeps bringing it to us."
Ryder has definitely been bringing it lately with a goal and two helpers in the last two games heading into Monday night. Ryder made an amazing, Gretzky-like pass to Krejci in Saturday's loss to the Islanders and scored with — as Julien put it — a "deadly" release. If he can get on a tear as the Bruins take off on a tough three-game roadie this weekend in Chicago, the Bruins offense might find the finishing touch they're so desperately lacking right now.
Mark Recchi earned the name "the Wrecking Ball" early in his career because despite being small in stature, he plays like a giant wrecking ball coming down the middle on every shift he takes. Recchi may be just 5-foot-9, but he plays like a 6-foot-4 power forward and that impact has been paying off on the scoreboard lately. Recchi had a two-goal night in the 5-2 win over the Leafs last Thursday and has three goals and three helpers in his last five games.
"It's a tough league to score in, and you can never say enough about guys that stand in front, stay there and are willing to take the punishment to score goals," said Julien of the veteran forward. "When you look at the end of the year and you look at how many goals guys have scored, you don't look to see whether it was a pretty one or a dirty one."
Julien also compared Recchi to one of the game's young superstars.
"I use the example of Zach Parise [of the New Jersey Devils], who is probably going to be a 50-goal scorer this year. Half his goals are scored in and around the crease area just banging away. That's what good players do."