David Krejci vs. Patrice Bergeron

by steve laidlaw on June 8, 2011
Krejci

 

Hey gang, sorry for the lack of Cage Match articles the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately duty calls and I was called away to fight some cage matches of my own taking on formidable opponents such as forest fires, Yogi Bear, and fantasy hockey withdrawal. It was arduous (particularly the latter) but I survived and now that I’ve had my first bear encounter I feel comfortable bringing you this week’s Cage Match – Krejci vs. Bergeron. That’s right, it’s a bear fight!

 

 

The Bruins are competing in the Stanley Cup Final this season thanks in large part to the work of their GM: Peter Chiarelli. Two players he cannot take credit for however are David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron who were second round gems taken by the Bruins in back-to-back years prior to the Lockout. It may not have been the plan when they were selected but Bergeron (’03) and Krejci (’04) are now Boston’s formidable but not overwhelming one-two punch up the middle.

 

I say they aren’t overwhelming because while both are very good, and have potential, I would not consider either one a star right now. They have each shown flashes but to date they both appear to be tremendous second line centermen who can fill in on the top line in a pinch. At present moment Krejci is filling that role and I think that along with his chemistry with Horton and Lucic would have many people thinking Krejci will take this fight paws down.

 

I think it is much closer. Krejci may be the top-line centerman but he has few advantages beyond linemates. Krejci averaged only a minute of ice time more than Bergeron per game (18:51 vs. 17:53), and both saw the same average powerplay time per game this season. The Bruins spread things out and score by committee so first line vs. second line is not the end of the world.

 

Third line may become an issue though. This is because Tyler Seguin is gaining experience and is the Bruins long term plan for the top line center ice position. This has poolies wondering about who will be relegated to third line duties if/when Seguin takes the next step. The easy conclusion is Bergeron. He’s no stranger to the third line and his two-way play and faceoff acumen acquit him very well to the position but not so fast. Seguin may be years away from taking ice time away from either Bergeron or Krejci and he may even get moved to the wing more permanently.

 

Cap concerns are also an issue regarding the Seguin situation. Krejci has only one year left on his contract and will likely demand a raise. Bergeron has three seasons remaining at a near $ 5 million cap hit. Seguin has just two years left on his entry level deal. Assuming he doesn’t pull a Stamkos and skyrocket in his sophomore season, it seems more likely that cap issues will force Boston’s hand, regarding this trio, by the time Seguin is ready to knock one of them down the depth charts anyhow. Don’t count out Seguin making a move to the wing either.

 

The final knock on Bergeron here is that he is a Band-Aid Boy. With his concussion issues the saying always goes that “He is one hit away from being done,” but let’s get real for a second here. Isn’t every player one hit away these days? Crosby got knocked out buy a relatively innocuous hit and now people are talking like he could retire. While you cannot completely write off injury history the whole one hit away argument doesn’t fly, especially not when one considers that Krejci has also had a concussion.

 

Personally, I think the big issue with concussions is whether or not the player can return to the same level of play and not become damaged or timid. After a couple of symptom free seasons Bergeron is back. He may still be suffering in fantasy circles because of the Band-Aid Boy stigma but in the context of this match it is irrelevant. Bergeron may not be the 70-plus dynamo he once was but the production is solid and the upside is there.

 

Now that we have debunked any theories to the contrary we can now consider this bear fight to be on level ground. It is not like we have a Kung Fu Panda on our hands or something ridiculous like that; we have just got a couple of Bruins trying to assert dominance. With that in mind let us allow the numbers do the talking.

 

Over the past two seasons the numbers for both Krejci and Bergeron have been fantastically similar.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Plus/Minus

PIM

PPP

SOG

Krejci

77

15

42

Plus-15.5

27

13

156.5

Bergeron

76.5

20.5

34

Plus-13

27

9.5

197.5

 

The only major advantage anyone has is Bergeron’s hold on SOG. It is the classic playmaker vs. shooter match up and as is most often the case the shooter wins. As a shooter, Bergeron has a small advantage in Goals that is countered by Krejci’s Assists. Plus/Minus is not only a minefield to navigate in general but is made even more difficult based on how close they have been. PIM is dead even, which is hilarious to me for some odd reason. Krejci does hold a slight advantage in PPP. It has nothing to do with minutes though so I am less inclined to see it as something major. That leaves us with SOG to decide things.

 

On the whole, 40 SOG per season is a pretty big advantage. That is 25% more production than Krejci each and every year and it is a wide enough margin to be consistent year after year. I cannot stress enough how much I prefer shooters to passers. It is easy to get hung up on point production but Points is not even a category. Krejci looks better when considering points only but give me Bergeron’s SOG advantage every time.

 

Upside is also definitely a factor in every Cage Match even those which are ursine in nature. As such it is important to look back at the career seasons that both Krejci and Bergeron coincidentally posted in their respective sophomore seasons.

 

GP

Goals

Assists

Plus/Minus

PIM

PPP

SOG

Krejci 2008-09

82

22

51

Plus-37

26

19

146

Bergeron 2005-06

81

31

42

Plus-3

22

29

310

 

Here again we see the classic playmaker vs. shooter battle and while it’s more complicated the shooter still wins.

 

Bergeron’s Goals advantage wipes out Krejci’s Assists advantage once again. This time however we see that Krejci is capable of much higher Plus/Minus totals. Conversely we see that Bergeron is capable of some truly outstanding production on the powerplay. PIM are a wash yet again leaving us tied going into SOG. Bergeron is in fact capable of putting up numbers that double Krejci’s in this category. He blows him out of the water. Bergeron is clearly asserting his dominance and comes with his ability to fling pucks at the net.

 

I understand if there is some trepidation over my decision. After all, it has been four long years since Bergeron reached anything resembling his upside. For Krejci it was only two years ago, yet both have sustained concussions since then and both have been slowed by injuries in general. I like both but since I do not fully trust the health of either player I am looking at the one tangible advantage I can find and that is Bergeron’s SOG numbers. He will consistently give you that advantage every time. So if you still disagree I’m unleashing the bears on you.

 

That’s right, everybody panic! There’s a bear loose in the coliseum! There will be no refunds. Your refund will be escaping this death trap with your life!