BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien knows the importance of David Krejci to his team's offense. But after watching Krejci score just twice and have no assists in the month of February, Julien knew the time had come to do whatever it takes to get Krejci going.
That meant breaking up his most successful line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, and putting Seguin on a line with Krejci and Milan Lucic. The move paid off Thursday as Krejci scored the overtime winner to complete a hat trick and help his team beat the New Jersey Devils for a dramatic 4-3 win. Seguin had a goal and an assist with his new linemates, and Lucic had two helpers.
"It was one of those situations where we haven't scored much, and somewhere along the way, you want to try to find a spark," Julien said when asked if it was hard to take Seguin away from Bergeron and Marchand. "I thought that would be a good one. ... Tyler hadn't scored in a while, so it was good to see him get on the board, and Dave went back to his position, so we had some great results from that line. They were good for us."
Julien said that Krejci's history of late-season/playoff success -- he posted 23 points in 25 playoff games during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run last season -- also served as motivating factor.
"He likes to thrive on big occasions, and there's no doubt that every playoff that he's played in, he's been a good player, and every year, at the end of the year, he's always been a good player," Julien said. "What I remember the most is my first year here [2007-08], and he was a rookie, and we lost Patrice and then [Marc] Savard with a broken back, and he came in and just took over, and that was the last month, when we were fighting for a playoff spot. He's known for those kind of finishes, and, again, he's starting to show us that he's ready to do it again."
Prior to Thursday's game, Krejci sat in his dressing room stall, smiling and talking hockey, seeming much more relaxed than the frustrated center he was on and off the ice for the last month.
"I'm feeling good," he told ESPNBoston.com. "What did you think of the trade deadline?"
"It's tough, you know, when people don't see you doing the little things and just look at points," Krejci said. "I know him and he's a leader there and he does a lot people maybe don't notice. I know what it's like. It's frustrating."
Well, while many -- including this scribe -- questioned Krejci's compete level and even suggested Krejci could be trade bait leading into the deadline, Julien saw Krejci doing those little things and getting better and wasn't about to give up on the player who has become Mr. Clutch at this time of the season.
"He looks more comfortable right now," Julien said. "As I've often said, he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He's probably his worst enemy when things aren't going well, and because of that, it doesn't help him in the long run. You try and take some of that pressure off and say, 'Listen, you've just got to go out there and play.' So, when he feels good about his game, you see a big difference, and that's what we've seen here tonight. He's a player that we rely on a lot. We feel that he's one of our top players, and when he produces the way he did tonight, there's no doubt our team is much better."
Krejci is thankful for his coach's faith and credited him for the bold lineup move.
"He's had me for a long time so he knows how to work with me," Krejci said of Julien. "The core of the team has been here for a long time and he knows us pretty well. He can sense it if we'll play well together and he tried it tonight and it worked. Hopefully we can keep it going and the next line chips in too and we have something good here."
If the "Mr. Clutch" Krejci has arrived, the Bruins and their fans can thank Julien for finding him again.