From the start of last season to the end, from the final preseason game to the moment the Bruins were knocked out of postseason contention, David Krejci was never quite right.
He was injured once and injured again and then rusty and out of sorts and altogether not himself. It was a frustrating season, one in which he managed just seven goals in 47 games, his lowest output since before he was a full-time NHLer.
He hit that number again Tuesday night — seven goals, already — except this time he reached the total in just eight games, as his two scores helped power the Bruins past the Coyotes, 6-0, for their first win at TD Garden this season.
Krejci’s two goals gave him 14 points, 1 behind league leader Jamie Benn of Dallas. But the fact the Bruins center is in the conversation is a measure of how far he has come.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Brad Marchand said. “He plays like that every year, sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. But he’s such a dominant player in this league. He’s able to slow the game down the way very few guys can do in this league.
“When he’s on, you’ve got to watch him every shift. He’s very dangerous. He can create something beautiful out of nothing.”
The Bruins are looking slightly more beautiful these days, with a cleaned-up defensive game and an offense that doesn’t seem to want to stop. There is, of course, reason to believe that the Bruins’ current offensive output — ranked second in the NHL at 4.13 per game — will not continue at this pace for the rest of the season.
But while it lasts, while the Bruins are able to ride the wave and stave off opponents, they will certainly take it.
This was, in the end, a more familiar-feeling game than those the Bruins have played, one in which they got Tuukka Rask’s first shutout of the season (24 saves), plus scoring up and down the lineup. The Bruins (4-3-1) ran their record to 4-0-1 in their last five.
“I think the first few games we were trying to figure out what our team was going to be and what we were going to be like,” Marchand said. “I think now we kind of are starting to figure out our identity, the things we need to work on to be a better team. We’re trying to improve every day.”
It started late in the first period, when Krejci notched his first goal on a two-on-one with Brett Connolly at 17:22. Two more came in the second period, a Jimmy Hayes cleanup of a Matt Beleskey rebound at 6:51 and a Joe Morrow wrister at 17:29.
And it didn’t stop. Instead of relenting, the Bruins poured it on in the third, adding three goals.
It was in Arizona on Oct. 17 that the Bruins had let the Coyotes come back from two down in the third to tie the score before finally pulling ahead.
Not on Tuesday. Connolly added his third in three games at 10:22, then Marchand ripped a power-play score at 13:07, and Krejci finished up with his second of the game at 19:22.
Granted, the Coyotes were playing their fifth road game in eight nights and were in the second half of a back-to-back. But, in the past, that hadn’t necessarily meant the Bruins were guaranteed a win.
Despite some dips in their play, as Julien pointed out, he said, “I like the way we finished strong in the third period. You could see they were running out of gas, but our guys kept pushing the pace and that was important too.”
The Bruins have been scoring. The lines have been coming together. The goaltender threw a shutout. They found their defensive game.
The game did not solve all of the Bruins’ woes. It did not erase their horrendous start or the holes that they have. But it was a step.
It was a first win at home. It meant something.
“I think we’re just confident, growing more confident,” Torey Krug said. “And we’re not satisfied with where we’re at and we’re still trying to learn and work out the kinks that we have in our game because we still do have a lot of those.”
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.