Krejci/By S. Bradley

A season that earned David Krejci the ultimate respect from his country of the Czech Republic should’ve also been the year he declared his position as one of the top two-way centers in the NHL.

However, a slow start to the 2009-10 campaign due his continued recovery from offseason hip surgery delayed his ascension to elite status and hindered the Bruins’ intentions of boasting the best three-center depth in the league on their way to a solid regular season.

Krejci’s numbers tailed off from the ’08-09 campaign, despite a 6-15-21 run to end the season after the Olympic break (during which he represented his nation in Vancouver).

Boston wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Krejci’s efforts down the stretch, but they needed more from him over the course of the entire season.

Season highlight: The Bruins had to play their best game of the year to close out Buffalo in Game 6 and avoid a return trip to Buffalo in their first-round series. It took Krejci just 13:39 to make sure the Bruins got on the scoreboard first. And then he assisted on Mark Recchi goal that made it 2-0, and scored the crucial third goal in a 4-3 win that gave Boston a series triumph.

Season low-light: While Krejci’s first-half struggles were a pain to the Bruins’ cause, nothing hurt Boston more than the injury that ended Krejci’s season after an open-ice hit by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards in Game 3 of the second-round series. The Bruins won that game but failed to find an adequate replacement for all that Krejci provided the team down the stretch.

Final grade: B-minus
Krejci’s play down the stretch this spring proved that last season wasn’t a fluke. However, Boston needed more, particularly when Marc Savard was injured early in the year. Krejci also struggled to help the inconsistent power play all season long. We still don’t know how well Krejci can play when cast as a No. 1 or 2 center over a long period of time.

The crystal ball says … Krejci returns to his ’08-09 form with at least one, if not two, better, more consistent wingers that help him find  a groove and possibly make Patrice Bergeron expendable on the trade market.