BOSTON — Torey Krug is so excited to begin his second Stanley Cup playoff run with the Boston Bruins that he compared it to Christmas morning.
If Friday night’s Game 1 wasn’t enough reason for a young player like Krug to be full of anticipation, he’s also going up against the team he grew up loving — the Detroit Red Wings.
Krug, a Livonia, Mich., native, remembers people in his neighborhood honking car horns and carrying brooms around when the Red Wings were winning Stanley Cup titles and sweeping teams out of the playoffs. Krug has watched Detroit win four Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008), and the team has never missed the playoffs during his lifetime.
The 23-year-old defenseman is not letting the matchup become a distraction, and thankfully, his only ticket requests are from his parents.
“It’s just another opponent right now,” Krug said. “I got over all that in the regular season when you go into (Joe Louis Arena in Detroit) and hang out with all of your family. Everyone is doing a good job letting me focus. It’s going to be fun, it’s exciting playing in there for me.”
Krug burst onto the scene in last year’s playoffs when he scored four goals in five games during Boston’s Eastern Conference semifinals victory over the New York Rangers. He has a remarkable offensive skill set, which includes a powerful shot from the point, smooth skating, good play-making skills and a high hockey IQ. The goal for him coming into 2013-14 was to improve defensively and take better care of the puck, especially in his own end. So far, Krug is happy with his progress.
“I rounded out my game individually and (was working on) getting better at defense and gaining the coach’s trust a little more, and I think that’s happened,” Krug said. “This time around, I’m excited and I know what to expect.
“If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck will end up in the back of your net. You have to make sure you play with confidence.”
Krug finished his campaign as the leading scorer among NHL rookie defensemen with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists). His 19 power-play points also were the most among rookie blueliners.
Both Krug and the team as a whole are under a ton of pressure entering Friday’s game after winning the Presidents’ Trophy and coming so close to winning the Stanley Cup last season. Anything less than another trip to the Cup Final would be a huge disappointment. But Krug is confident his teammates will thrive under the circumstances.
“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” he said. “This team has high expectations of ourselves. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever (we face).