Early in the 2011-12 season, David Krejci received a contract extension that many considered overpriced, especially considering that, to many, he's not even the best pivot on his own team.
He backed the haters up by having a subpar season, due in large parts to Nathan Horton's season-ending concussion which resulted in a months-long process of line-jumbling that never really settled down as the season wore on. So while it's nigh impossible to make Krejci the fall guy for a season that's better forgotten than analyzed (alas, we're still here), it's easy to state that the Czech wonder underperformed wildly, given his shiny new $5.25 million deal.
But why and where he underperformed are much more interesting than the fact that he did. Krejci totaled the same number of points (62) in 2011-12 that he did during 2010-11, but did so by scoring 10 more goals than he did during the Bruins' Stanley Cup Championship season. This surge eclipsed his previous career high by one goal (22 in 2008-09, when he had Marc Savard and Phil Kessel around to lighten the load), and is almost certainly a direct result of his having to be a goal-scorer more than a playmaker.
At the same time, Krejci was a minus-5 on the season; the first time in his NHL career that he registered a negative in the plus-minus department while playing a full season (his minus-3 in 2007-08 came over 56 games). Krejci's a pretty defensively responsible forward (evidenced by his logging serious minutes on the PK), but he's a guy who needs consistency around him to be successful, and juggling the lines night in and night out isn't going to get him to the next level, even if Claude Julien had no other choice.
But we all know that David Krejci isn't getting paid $5.25 million to chase 70 points between October and April; he's getting paid to be a machine from April through June. When he's on the ice in the playoffs, the Bruins win (see: games 1-3 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals; the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs). And when he's not, well, they struggle.
Krejci, of course, was on the ice during the Bruins' brief stint in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it's hard to believe that he was playing at 100% after taking a 150-pound pane of TD Garden plexiglass off the neck following the Bruins' 1-0 Game 1 win over the Caps.
I'm not going to blame the glass-banging masses for Krejci's struggles in the opening round of the playoffs, nor will I hold them accountable for the Bruins not making it into the second round. Hell, I'm actually sort of glad that they avoided a third consecutive Eastern Conference Semis against the Flyers, as much of a walk as that would have been.
But when you get paid $5.25 million a year, there are going to be expectations. You can blame injuries, you can blame line changes, you can blame inconsistency (or, since it's Krejci we're talking about, you can even blame Blake Wheeler), but when the puck drops, you've gotta bring it.
And Krejci just plain didn't.