BOSTON — Maybe Torey Krug should take maintenance days a little more often.
The Bruins defenseman didn’t practice Friday morning, the beneficiary of what B’s coach Claude Julien labeled a “maintenance day.” Krug was dealing with some sort of nagging ailment and was even a gametime decision Saturday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets. The decision was that the rookie would be in the lineup, and that paid off in a big way.
Krug had one of his best games of the season Saturday afternoon as the Bruins cruised to a 4-1 win over the visiting Jets. It’s a nice win for the B’s, who have two straight wins under their belts before heading out on a three-game road trip to California to take on some of the league’s toughest home teams.
Krug snapped an 11-game goalless streak with a pair of goals and also added an assist for his first-career three-point game. That success didn’t come without some initial struggle, though. The young D-man was partially responsible for the Bruins allowing the game’s first goal. Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien came barreling down the right wing midway through the first period, and Krug made the decision to take away the passing lane and let Byfuglien put the shot on goal. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made the save, but Byfuglien beat Krug to the rebound. The big Winnipeg defensman gathered the puck, went around the net and curled back into the slot before beating Rask with a quick wrist shot.
It was a less-than-ordeal start for Krug, who has been struggling, especially in his own zone, as of late. He was just two games removed from taking a minus-3 in a loss to Ottawa and had collected just three assists since last finding the back of the net against Toronto on Dec. 8. Krug’s confidence did not waver after the early mishap, though.
“It’s frustrating when it seems to be there’s a tendency that when you’re on the ice, the puck goes in your own net,” Krug said. “That’s frustrating, but it’s all about forgetting and putting it in the past and forgetting about it and making plays moving forward. That’s what we did tonight.”
It didn’t take long for Krug and the Bruins to put it in the rear-view. The B’s scored less than four minutes later when Krug made a fantastic pass across the slot to Daniel Paille for the game-tying goal. Any sort of momentum from that goal carried over to the second period where Krug finally broke through with a goal of his own. His shot from the left point got through traffic in front and beat Ondrej Pavelec for Krug’s first tally in almost a month.
“Any time you aren’t contributing the way you were before, it can be frustrating,” Krug said. “When all you want to do is help the team win and you’re not contributing, it’s tough, but it’s a good feeling when you get the first one.”
Just 4:14 later, Krug found the back of the net again. The Michigan native just put the puck toward the net from pretty much the same place on the ice where he scored the first goal. Carl Soderberg was battling for position in front of the net, which is where the puck deflected off of Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba and by Pavelec. It’s the type of play, a simple one, that the B’s would like to see Krug make a little more often. It was just as simple as getting the puck to the net, and in this case, a good thing happened.
“He really feels like he needs to make a play every time he’s got the puck and sometimes it’s just about making the safe play which doesn’t have to always be the big play and that’s where he’s trying to improve his game,” Julien said after the game.
Julien can likely point to that simple success enjoyed Saturday, but on the whole, the head coach still likes what he sees out of the young D-man.
“Where does he rank, he ranks pretty high for a guy that’s in his first year, he’s been put into those kind of situations and again our power play has been as good and he’s been good at it and he’s been a big part of that success,” Julien added. “A lot of good things moving the puck and carrying the puck up ice and he’s been a great asset to our hockey club and an asset that we have been looking for, for a long time.”
With what’s expected to be a tough road trip on tap, Julien and the Bruins couldn’t have asked for a better time for Krug to break out.