BOSTON — The Bruins had the services of David Krejci at their disposal Thursday for the first time in nearly a month.
Krejci made his return to the lineup in Boston’s 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks after missing the previous 10 games with an upper body injury. His performance was about what one would expect from a player of his caliber returning from a lengthy absence: solid, but not spectacular.
“Not bad,” Krejci said when asked how he felt out on the ice. “I mean, a little rusty, but other than that, not too bad.”
The Bruins veteran logged 16:39 of ice time out of his usual second-line center spot, tallying one shot on goal and winning 7 of 17 faceoffs.
“First game back,” head coach Claude Julien said. “When you (as a team) don’t play as well as you did (Thursday night), it’s hard to evaluate. But for a guy who didn’t play in three weeks, I’m certainly not disappointed.”
Some additional notes from Thursday’s game:
— Rookie winger Frank Vatrano was assigned to Providence before the game, ending the 21-year-old’s first career NHL stint. Vatrano tallied six goals and one assist in his 30 games with the B’s and managed just one point over his last 13 contests.
— Daniel Sedin scored the 347th and 348th goals of his career in the game, pushing him past Markus Naslund to become Vancouver’s all-time leading goal-scorer. It was a special moment for the career Canuck, but he said the fact that it came in Boston didn’t add any extra significance.
“I would take it anywhere, to be honest with you,” Sedin told reporters. “Like I said before, we want to get into the playoffs, and winning games is huge right now. So, that doesn’t really matter.”
— Ex-Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski returned to TD Garden for the first time since signing with the Canucks as a free agent this past summer. He spoke about the homecoming before the game.
The 27-year-old also was asked about another former B’s blueliner, Dougie Hamilton, whose departure from Boston this past July accompanied reports that he was not well-liked in the Bruins’ dressing room.
“I liked Dougie,” Bartkowski said. “I heard about all that; I don’t know where that was really coming from. He’s a quiet kid. He’s a nice kid. You get to know that a little bit, you’ll find that out.”
Bartkowski’s defense partner Thursday night was another player with Boston ties: Harvard product Alex Biega.
— One of the most intriguing storylines over the next month or so will be how the Bruins proceed with impending free agent Loui Eriksson — whether they choose to trade him before the Feb. 29 deadline, re-sign him during the season or choose to deal with the matter this summer, with the latter being the least desirable option.
WEEI.com’s DJ Bean discussed the matter with the winger Wednesday and gleaned a previously unreported nugget of information regarding Eriksson’s initial trade to Boston from the Dallas Stars.
“I wanted to maybe leave Dallas,” Eriksson told Bean. “When that trade happened, it was a good opportunity to come to a really good team.
“It was just a decision right there of, we’d been in Dallas for many years. I just felt like we needed something, needed a change. When that happened and I knew Boston wanted me to come there, it was definitely nice to come and play for a team like Boston.”
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney offered an update on the team’s negotiations with Eriksson during NESN’s “Bruins Face-Off LIVE” pregame show.
— Though he’s tallied a respectable 19 assists this season, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is on pace for a career low in goals. He’s managed just three, and Thursday’s game was his 20th in a row without one.
When asked about this drought Thursday morning, Julien pointed to shot accuracy as a possible explanation.
“He’s missed the net quite a bit,” Julien said. “He’s shot over the net. We’ve had a talk about that — how he needs to hit the net a little bit more. But there’s no doubt when you’re used to scoring more than that, he’s probably forcing things a little bit. And you know some years everything goes in and some years nothing wants to go in so.
“For Torey, I just think he has to focus on his job and do it right and let things fall into place. If those pucks are going to go in, they’re going to go in. But they’re only going to go in if you hit the net.”
Krug might be missing the net from time to time, but he’s also hitting it quite often. He’s recorded 130 shots on goal this season, tied with Brad Marchand for second on the team.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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