Bruins Notes: Matt Grzelcyk, Power Play Succeeding In Torey Krug’s Absence

Torey Krug long has been one of the NHL’s most gifted offensive defensemen, but last season he truly cemented himself among the league’s elite in the attacking zone — especially on the power play.

So when Krug suffered an ankle injury late in the preseason that will keep him sidelined until (at the very least) later this month, reasonable concern surfaced over who would quarterback the power play.

Matt Grzelcyk has assumed the role, and so far he’s done well in it. The left-shot blue-liner had two primary assists in Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden, and both came on the power play.

In all, the Bruins went 2-for-4 on the man advantage, with Grzelcyk getting 3:39 of the ice time. Charlie McAvoy (1:38), John Moore (:59) and Kevan Miller (:27) accounted for the rest of the time with an extra man.

Since going 0-for-2 on the power play in Boston’s dreadful Opening Night loss to the Washington Capitals last Wednesday, it’s tallied at least one goal on the power play in the ensuing three contests. In that stretch, the Bruins have a 57.1-percent execution rate, which ranks among the NHL’s best.

Make no mistake, eventually getting Krug back will be a big boost to Boston. But for now, Grzelcyk and Co. are proving that they are more than adequate reinforcements when Krug can’t go.

Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Bruins-Oilers game:

— Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy made a bit of a gamble entering Thursday, scratching Ryan Donato and starting Joakim Nordstrom on the left wing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The second line had been anemic on offense through three games, but Nordstrom provided the jolt they needed. Just 36 seconds after Brad Marchand put the Bruins ahead 2-1 in the first, Nordstrom won a puck battle along the boards near the Oilers bench. He dished a pass to Krejci as he entered the attacking zone, and Krejci skated for a moment with the puck before slipping it right back to Nordstrom, who buried it on the doorstep.

Nordstrom had some experience as a top-six forward with the Carolina Hurricanes, slashing a career-best 10-14-24 in the 2015-16 campaign, but he’s mostly spent his time on third and fourth lines throughout his career.

Because of that, Nordstrom becoming a mainstay on the second unit is highly unlikely, even though he meshed well with his linemates — Krejci in particular. Still, he presents a nice veteran option when Donato or Danton Heinen go cold.

— The Bruins’ top line provided yet another reminder that they are one of hockey’s most electric trios.

After all three tallied points in Monday’s win over the Ottawa Senators, the David Pastrnak-Patrice Bergeron-Marchand combo all recorded goals in the victory.

Bergeron’s tally was an empty-netter with 35 seconds to play. However, he had the secondary assist on Marchand’s goal, meaning all three would have had at least a point yet again even if Bergeron didn’t pot a goal.

— Jaroslav Halak got the nod between the pipes, and he looked sharp yet again.

Halak allowed a goal on the first shot he faced, with Connor McDavid burning Zdeno Chara and getting a breakaway, but from there he settled in nicely. Halak was tasked with turning away plenty of quality scoring chances, especially late in the first and third periods, but he did more than enough to keep Boston’s lead secure.

He finished his night with 25 saves.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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