WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Bruins already are down one center because of a broken leg. David Krejci escaped the same misfortune.
Krejci did not suffer a fracture Sunday, according to coach Claude Julien. Krejci hurt his right leg in the third period of the Bruins’ 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh when Johnny Boychuk dropped the center with a slap shot. Julien termed Krejci day-to-day.
The Bruins have not determined whether Krejci will be available Tuesday against the Jets. Krejci was one of nine players not to practice Monday. He received treatment at MTS Iceplex, the Jets’ practice facility.
“Considering where he got hit, it could have been worse,” said Julien. “Right now, we’re dealing with it as a day-to-day situation. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. We’ll progress from there.”
After Monday’s practice, the Bruins recalled Ryan Spooner from Providence. Spooner should be in Winnipeg in time to play Tuesday if Krejci is unavailable.
It was Spooner’s second NHL recall. Spooner appeared in one game, against Montreal Feb. 6, when Brad Marchand was out because of an upper-body injury. Spooner centered the fourth line between Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif.
The Bruins can’t afford to be without Krejci for an extended stretch. They are already without No. 3 center Chris Kelly, who suffered a broken left tibia March 11 against Ottawa. Kelly’s return date is unknown.
Krejci and linemates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton submitted one of their best performances of the season in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Washington. The line was involved in all four goals. Krejci had one goal and two assists in 16:34 of ice time.
Krejci has seven goals and 17 assists while averaging 18:49 of ice time per game. He trails only Patrice Bergeron (25 points, 19:09 of action per game) in points and average ice time among forwards. With Kelly unavailable to kill penalties, Krejci was due to assume some of the shorthanded slack, especially at the end of each PK. On the power play, Krejci has been manning the right elbow on the No. 1 unit, flanking point man Dougie Hamilton.
If Krejci can’t play, Rich Peverley could skate between Lucic and Horton. Spooner would center the third line, flanked by Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron.
“It’s up to everybody to pick up the slack,” Julien said. “When you look at Ottawa, that’s what they’ve done as a group. They play hard. We’ve got to play harder. We know goals aren’t going to come at a premium when you’ve got some goal scorers out of your lineup. At the same time, it’s one of those things where you’ve got to work hard, get better collectively, certain guys have to chip in here and there to help our hockey club, and get through it.”
Tyler Seguin scored his 10th goal Sunday, and has the second-most goals on the team behind Marchand. Seguin has been scoring at a point-per-game clip for the last 16 matches (8-8—16).
In Seguin’s first 11 games, the third-year pro scored only two goals and had four assists. In hindsight, Seguin believes the six-year, $34.5 million extension he signed before the lockout might have been a reason for his slow start. Other factors included transitioning back to NHL style — smaller rinks, rougher play — following his stint in Switzerland.
“At the beginning of the year, I was thinking about almost too much,” Seguin said. “With [the extension], with coming back from Europe, just everything that was going on, trying to adjust back to this style of game. It’s taken me a while longer than I was expecting. But I feel fine now.”
Young players often feel the heat of fulfilling big-bucks contracts. The Bruins were not initially planning to extend Seguin until a new collective bargaining agreement was in place. But after fellow 2010 picks Jeff Skinner and Taylor Hall re-upped prior to the start of the lockout, Seguin received his deal, in which he’ll average $5.75 million per season starting in 2013-14.
Seguin noted his salary will escalate each season. He will earn $4.5 million next season. By 2018-19, the final year of his deal, Seguin will make $6.5 million.
“I did that purposely so I could continue earning respect in this locker room, from management, and the coaching staff,” Seguin said.
Krejci was one of nine players who didn’t practice Monday. Also getting days off were Bergeron, Marchand, Boychuk, Lucic, Horton, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, and Dennis Seidenberg. “The biggest challenge is balancing the rest with practice time,” Julien said. “Keeping the team sharp, but also giving them the rest they need. If you only give them rest, I think you lose your sharpness by not practicing. If you’re practicing too much, you’re not giving them enough rest. We’re dealing with it on a daily basis differently. Sometimes the whole team stays back. Sometimes, as you saw today, certain players with lots of ice time are kept off the ice.” . . . Peverley practiced with an eye-opening stick: a bright yellow Warrior. Peverley broke the stick late in practice . . . Chara turned 36 Monday.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.