BOSTON — Did Claude Julien expect Torey Krug to be as productive as he was Tuesday night for the Bruins?
Ha. He didn’t even think he would play.
The Bruins head coach said after Tuesday’s 7-3 beatdown of the Ottawa Senators, during which Krug assisted on two power-play goals, that the coaching staff initially was not optimistic about the defenseman’s chances of suiting up. Krug had missed Boston’s last game-and-a-half with an undisclosed injury, and his status was a major question mark entering the second end of a home-and-home with Ottawa.
“One of the issues this morning to be honest with you, as coaches, we weren’t expecting him to be in the lineup (Tuesday night),” Julien said. “And then, we got some news at some point that it was a good possibility. He skated (Tuesday) morning and felt good, so we had to make a decision based on that.”
The decision to reinsert Krug into the lineup proved to be a wise one. The 24-year-old blueliner helped stabilize Boston’s top power-play unit, which took a hit when center David Krejci landed on injured reserve Tuesday with an upper body injury.
“Being out there just makes you realize how much Krech does for us,” Krug said.
Krug finished with two assists to reach the 100-point plateau for his career, and the Bruins turned in one of their best special teams efforts of the season, scoring a season-high four power-play goals and allowing zero.
A few final notes from Tuesday night, as the Bruins now turn their attention toward the NHL Winter Classic, which is set for Friday at Gillette Stadium:
— Krejci’s injury opened up some power-play time for Seth Griffith, who was recalled Tuesday from Providence. Griffith also skated alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on Boston’s first line — a hefty responsibility for a 22-year-old who previously had not played a game at the NHL level this season.
The young forward did spend 30 games with Boston last season, though, during which he played some with Marchand and Bergeron. A preseason knee injury prevented him from making the NHL roster out of training camp, but after a productive few months at the American Hockey League level, he’s back with the big club looking to make his mark.
“I knew (Tuesday) morning, so I just tried to prepare the best I could,” said Griffith, who logged 12:27 of ice time and tallied one assist in the win. “I thought I played all right. I made some mistakes out there, but as the game went on, I felt more comfortable, so that’s obviously a good thing.”
The call-up came at an exciting time for Griffith, who likely will be in the lineup for the Bruins’ meeting with the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette.
“(The Winter Classic) is something you watch as a kid growing up, so it’s something special,” he said. “If I’m lucky enough to play in it, it’ll definitely be a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
— Jimmy Hayes notched the first hat trick of his NHL career in the win, scoring the third goal with just 0.2 seconds remaining in the game.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” he said.
— Though he managed just two goals to Hayes’ three, Bruins winger Matt Beleskey finished with the most impressive all-around stat line: two goals, five shots, four blocked shots and 10 penalty minutes, the result of his role in the massive line brawl that broke out in the game’s final minute.
Beleskey, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid each earned a misconduct for the Bruins, while Chris Neil, Mark Borowiecki and Zack Smith did the same for the Senators. Neil also picked up a roughing minor amid the mayhem, and Zac Rinaldo and David Dziurzynski collected fighting majors when their altercation escalated to fisticuffs.
Rinaldo dominated Dziurzynski, earning him a large ovation from the Garden crowd.
“Those happen I think throughout the season,” Julien said of the melee. “I don’t know what started it — when I say why, I mean Chris Neil was chasing McQuaid. I have no idea. Did something happen? I have no idea, but you know then the rest happened, so I don’t know. I really don’t, and that’s just things that you want to see your team stick together and make sure you stick up for your teammates, and that what we did (Tuesday night).
“Whether some people think it’s team building, it’s great for your group — to a certain extent, it is, but you don’t want to see that every game. It happened (Tuesday), and usually those things can happen on those home-and-away games with the same team.”
— Loui Eriksson was whistled for hooking midway through the period. Why is that news? Entering Tuesday, the Bruins winger had racked up a grand total of two penalty minutes all season.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau