David Krejci tried to tough it out in Monday's Bruins victory against the Anaheim Ducks. However, the veteran Czech center headed down the tunnel in the second period and did not return.
Although Krejci participated in the first part of the team's practice Wednesday, he left the ice halfway through the session. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the practice that Krejci's status for Thursday night's home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was still up in the air.
Following Monday's game, Cassidy said he hoped Krejci would be able to play Thursday. It looks as if that may still be a possibility.
A Line in Flux
If Krejci misses any time, Cassidy will be forced to do some shuffling to find a good fit to replace him as the pivot on the second line. That line has taken some criticism of late. Losing Krejci could exacerbate any existing issues.
To their credit, Karson Kuhlman and linemate Jake Debrusk have played well so far this season. Although they both had goals called off, neither has scored a goal. If Krejci is out, not only will the coaching staff be looking for the best options at wing, but will also be searching for a replacement at center.
There are options, both internally and in AHL Providence, but none of those would be ideal. If Cassidy and company choose to move around Charlie Coyle or Sean Kuraly to fill in on the second line in Krejci's absence, the bottom six could suffer. Coyle moved up to replace Krejci in Wednesday's practice.
Par Lindholm or David Backes, who took turns at third-line center in practice Wednesday, are also available in Krejci's stead. However, both have been healthy scratches more often than not so far this season. Inserting them simply to fill a hole could affect the team's productivity.
Trent Frederic and Jack Stdnicka are options in Providence. Frederic played with the big club for a while last season, but did not stick around long. Studnicka's talent is impressive, but he lacks NHL experience. Studnicka needs time to develop his skills at the minor-league level.
Even if Krejci is unable to play Thursday, the fact that he got some practice hopefully indicates that he will return to the lineup soon. Bruins fans and coaches alike can breathe a sigh of relief.