The Bruins wouldn’t be where they are today without the help of Torey Krug, but that’s hard for some to believe based on his play over the last week or so.
The youngster from Michigan got a shot when a trio of B’s defensemen went down with injury earlier this postseason, and he not only fit right in — he dominated, sniping four goals past one of the game’s best netminders in Henrik Lundqvist during the B’s 4-1 series victory. Krug was just as solid in his own zone, and his balanced play earned him the right to suit up in every game since.
After the impressive Rangers series, Krug was dealt some tough matchups against the Penguins, and it seemed a bit of his “beginner’s luck,” so to speak, was wearing thin.
Then, in Game 1 against the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, he made a costly mistake that led to Chicago’s second goal, which cut the B’s lead to just one goal. On a turnover described as “terrible” by goalie Tuukka Rask, Krug flipped a soft pass toward center ice from his own zone that was picked off by Andrew Shaw, who fed Dave Bolland for the tally.
“When you look at games, there are a lot of mistakes made,” head coach Claude Julien said. “Some end up as goals, and some you’re able to recover from. We certainly shouldn’t look and judge this player on one game where he might have been average instead of real good, like he has been. Those are part of a player getting better, and it doesn’t mean we lose confidence in him, because we still had the confidence to put him out there in overtime.”
While Julien didn’t lose confidence in Krug, he didn’t seem to gain much either, as Krug was benched the remaining 12 minutes of regulation and was used sparingly in the first overtime. Despite his mistake, Krug is still a key member of the team, one the B’s can’t go on without. Krug isn’t just a reliable defender who can break the puck out of the zone. He’s one of the team’s best skaters and an important stick on the B’s power play.
“He’s the kind of guy to produce the kind of goal we needed,” Julien added. “It is what it is. It’s easy to focus in on one thing, and yes, it was a mistake to throw that puck up the middle, but if you look back at the play, I didn’t think we had a good line change, and he didn’t have a ton of options. There could be some blame shared on that goal.”
Like any good player — veteran or rookie — Krug vows to put that awful play behind him. In fact, he didn’t let the turnover get to him during the game, as he knew he was going to be relied on to bounce back.
“I didn’t beat myself up. Especially during the game, you’ve got to be ready to go back out on the ice,” Krug said. “The best players, they forget mistakes like that. They learn from them, but then they have a short-term memory. For me, it was about getting ready to get back out there the next time my name was called, and come overtime, I was ready to go.”
Heading into Game 1, Krug had six points and was a plus-5 in the previous nine playoffs games. Against Chicago he checked in with two hits and a minus-2 but was out there practicing with Adam McQuaid on Friday meaning he’ll likely be back on the ice for Game 2.
“We’ve all been there,” defenseman Andrew Ference said. “Everybody has made passes that don’t work out. So what? That’s the game. Nobody expects perfection. You know the other team is going to get chances. You move on. What’s done is done.”
Cam Neely, a guy not necessarily remembered for mistakes he made, was asked by ESPN’s James Murphy about a triple-overtime Stanley Cup Final loss to the Oilers he endured back in 1990. No. 8 had some flashbacks about that game on Wednesday night and wondered what could have been if things happened differently. Ultimately, though, the B’s president offered some pretty good words of wisdom that could tie in nicely with Krug’s situation.
“You always look back and think about things you may have been able to do differently,” he said. “But again, one of my lines I talk to myself about and said in the past is, ‘my rearview mirror is broken,’ so there’s no point rehashing that, because you can’t change the past.”