Why Taylor Hall benefits most from David Krejci's return to Bruins

·4 min read

Why Taylor Hall benefits most from David Krejci's return to Bruins originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Much of the linemate talk surrounding David Krejci following his return to the Boston Bruins has involved David Pastrnak, which makes sense.

Krejci and Pastrnak are two of the best Czech players in the world and played together for the Czech Republic at the World Championships earlier this year. Krejci also credited Pastrnak for helping convince him to come back to the B's after spending a year playing in his home country.

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Even though we'll probably see plenty of Krejci and Pastrnak on Boston's second line next season, another player actually stands to benefit even more from the veteran center being back with the Bruins.

That player is Taylor Hall -- the third component of Boston's projected second line.

Hall was acquired by the Bruins via trade late in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season and was immediately placed on Krejci's left wing. This duo gelled right away and the results were fantastic. The former Hart Trophy winner tallied 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 16 regular season games with Krejci.

The Bruins outscored teams 14-1 at 5-on-5 when Krejci and Hall played together in 2020-21. The B's played well last season with Hall on the ice without Krejci, but the stats weren't as impressive.

Natural Stat Trick

Sure, Hall's time with Krejci was a small sample size, but it was clear from the beginning they were a good match. It wasn't a surprise, either. Krejci has proven to be a tremendous fit with power-forward wingers -- like Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla, for example.

Hall, despite scoring just one 5-on-5 goal from Opening Night through Dec. 31, tallied 20 goals in 81 games last season and his centers were mostly Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula. Haula, to his credit, helped improve the second line's production alongside Hall and Pastrnak when former Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy put that trio together in early January. But Krejci is a far better playmaker than Haula, and the 36-year-old center should put Hall in positions to score more often.

Hitting the 30-goal mark shouldn't be too difficult for Hall in 2022-23. Krejci is by far the best center he's played alongside over the last eight years. It's sometimes easy to forget how clinical Krejci can be as a passer, and these metrics from his last five NHL seasons help show that (via @JFreshHockey).

Twitter/@JFreshHockey

It's not hyperbole to say the Bruins could have the best second line in the league next season if Hall, Krejci and Pastrnak remain together and healthy throughout. Krejci has played with some quality wingers in his career, but rarely has he been alongside two as talented as Hall and Pastrnak.

Scoring depth has been a fatal flaw for the Bruins in recent playoff runs. Now that Krejci is back in the fold, the B's could have one of the most dangerous and productive top-six forward groups in the league.

It's not hyperbole to say the Bruins could have the best second line in the league next season if Hall, Krejci and Pastrnak remain together and healthy throughout.

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Krejci is confident he can elevate the Bruins and that he still has plenty more gas left in the tank.

"I feel like I have a lot to offer still," Krejci said Tuesday. "I know people talk about my age, but it's just a number. I feel I'm in good shape. And yeah, obviously, I'm coming back to try to go all the way. But I've been in the league a long time, so I know what it takes to make the playoffs and go all the way.

"So just one step at a time. I know we have some injuries early on, some key players, so we're going to miss those guys for sure. And maybe that's going to bring our team closer right at the beginning. That would be good."