During his second year of junior hockey with Gatineau of the QMJHL, Boston Bruins center David Krejci lived with a teammate from Newfoundland.
From what he can recall, that arrangement worked out fine. Little did the Czech Republic native know that his interaction with a player from that province would get even better once he established himself in the NHL. Michael Ryder has proven to be the perfect fit on Krejci’s right wing this season, most recently during a five-game playoff run that’s featured Ryder piling up nine points (five goals) and Krejci registering six points (three goals).
“I think it’s just the fact that David is a pretty creative player and he likes to set up players,” said head coach Claude Julien today after the Bruins practiced in Wilmington, Mass. “And Michael’s a shooter and he likes to get out in the open and take those shots. At the same time, he’s also a guy that’s pretty strong along the boards protecting the puck and that kind of stuff. So I think the two of them complement each other very well.”
Julien has kept Ryder and Krejci together as a pair joined by a rotation of left wingers since late November. At that stage of the season, the dynamic duo plus rookie Blake Wheeler emerged as the Bruins’ best offensive line for the better part of the next two months.
“The first game, we played great. The second game, we played great too. And I was like, ‘all right, this might be just one of those things that you just click for a couple games and then you’ll get cold again,'” recalled Krejci. “But we kept playing good together. Every game, we got more chemistry. We talk a lot about what’s happening on the ice. That helps too. We stayed together and try to use as much chemistry as we have.”
Before this season, the 29-year-old Ryder admits he didn’t know much about Krejci. But while playing for the Olympiques (who were known as the Hull Olympiques back when Ryder played for them under Julien), Krejci watched a lot of Ryder during Montreal Canadiens broadcasts. As we all know, some things just don’t translate on television, and Krejci never got a real grasp of Ryder’s total game.
“I knew he was a shooter. And when he came here and I started playing with him, I found out that he’s not just a shooter, he’s a great guy off the ice and he’s so competitive on the ice,” said the second-year pivot. “He really works hard, he’s got great speed and he can even pass the puck. So he’s got so many strengths. I was just impressed.”
Ryder got a feel for Krejci during the preseason.
“I knew he was a good player,” said the winger. “You could tell in the games, and the way he played, he’s a smart player. He knows what he’s doing out there. In exhibition (season), you can tell.”
Ryder continues to impress Krejci and the rest of the Bruins’ observers. And Krejci, Boston’s second-leading scorer in the regular season, continues to blossom into a premier player in the NHL. As a tandem, Krejci and the star from Newfoundland are easy to live with.