Former Michigan State captain Torey Krug thinks he’s ready to make the jump from the college hockey to the NHL, and after signing with the Bruins over the weekend following his junior season, the 20-year-old defenseman skated with his new teammates for the first time Tuesday morning.
“A couple of days ago, I was sitting in my house in East Lansing getting ready to study for a test, and here I am sitting in a locker room full of NHLers,” Krug said. “It’s been a great past couple of days, and I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
When negotiating with the Bruins, it was agreed upon that Krug (pronounced KROOG), would spend the rest of the regular season in the NHL, which burns a season of his three-year entry level contract. Krug doesn’t know whether he’ll get into any games, but he’s eager to learn from players he grew up looking up to. In the case of Zdeno Chara, the 5-foot-9 (if that) Krug takes the expression literally.
“I’m looking up very high,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know if they built these lockers for him, but I can barely reach my helmet up top. It’s pretty funny, and I look forward to learning from him.”
His lack of size is something Krug has heard about his whole life. It’s likely why he went undrafted, but he uses as motivation.
“My whole life, I’ve been told I’m too small, and I think that’s one of the reasons that I wasn’t drafted,” he said. “At the same time, not being drafted is a blessing in disguise. There are few times in pro sports where guys get to pick where they want to play. I had the opportunity, and here I am in Boston.”
What Krug lacks physically, he makes up for with his leadership skills. He was a captain at Michigan State the last two seasons, wearing the ‘C’ for the first time as a sophomore.
“The kid’s got tremendous character,” Peter Chiarelli said on Sunday. “He’s not a big player, but he’s got a lot of heart.”
Said Krug: “I’d like to think I’m a dynamic skater. I can definitely play both sides of the puck. A lot of guys see me as a smaller defenseman and they think, ‘Oh, he’s just an offensive defenseman,’ but I like to take care of the D zone. I take a lot of pride in making that first pass out of the zone.”
When Krug decided to leave after his junior season, he had his choice when it came to where he wanted to play. Having watched the playoffs last spring, he saw a lot to like about the Bruins, so they were the pick.
“When you make a decision like that, it comes down to a lot of things, but the one thing that it always came back to is I want to be part of a winning organization,” he said. “That’s what the Boston Bruins have here.”
The Bruins had some low points during their two months of mediocrity from mid-January through this month. There was the 6-0 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Feb. 8, or the 6-2 loss to the Panthers on March 15.
Right up (or down) there with those ugly games was March 13 against the Lightning. The B’s, with Marty Turco making his first start for Boston, got trounced in Tampa Bay to the tune of a 6-1. Turco was yanked after three goals in the first 4:31, and the Bruins gave Tim Thomas 18:35 and two goals on five shots of work before returning returning Turco to the net for good. The team was a mess defensively, and the Lightning treated the Boston zone like it was a free skate. Steven Stamkos had two goals in the game, including his 50th of the season, scored on a lazy wrist shot past Turco that NHL goaltenders usually stop with ease.
Since that loss, and the ensuing one vs. the Panthers, the B’s have showed more signs of life. They’ve won four of their last five games, have scored more, and haven’t allowed more than two goals in their last five contests.
Rich Peverley could only watch that March 13 game, as he was rehabbing his right knee, but after playing Sunday in the team’s 3-2 victory over the Ducks, the forward can see a difference in how the B’s are playing. When the B’s host the Lightning on Tuesday, they hope to avoid looking the way they did in the teams’ last meeting.
“I feel like it’s a tale of two teams, to be honest,” Peverley said of the Bruins now vs. then. “I was watching the way we’ve played of late, and I feel like we’ve done a really good job of managing the game. I think it’s confidence, and if we can keep building our confidence towards the end of the season, it’s going to help.”
Guy Boucher‘s squad is currently out of the playoff picture, as Tampa is seven points out of a playoff spot, but the Bolts are currently riding a three-game winning streak. They picked up a 5-3 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia Friday night.
If March 13 taught the Bruins anything, it’s that their former Eastern Conference finals opponent isn’t to be taken lightly. The Bruins will keep that in mind as they look to put forth a stronger effort and avoid another embarrassment.
“That Tampa game was obviously an embarrassing game for us,” Chris Kelly, who was a minus-1 against the Bolts on March 13, said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “If you ask anyone in this locker room, that wasn’t our style of hockey, and give them credit. They came out hard and played well and played right until the final buzzer like they should have, and we didn’t show up at all that game. They played well last night and are coming off a big win, so we’re going to need a much, much better than the last time we played them.”
Said Claude Julien: “It’s never a bad thing to feel the sting a little bit of it. There’s no doubt we didn’t play very well [vs. the Lightning last time]. They came out extremely hard against us, and we weren’t ready for that and because of that we lost a game. It was a pretty easy win for them.
“Let’s put it this way ‘ the way we gave them goals and the mistakes we made along the way, so we have to be better tonight. If anything, we have to make sure we’re skating against this team. They play a system that if you’re not playing well, they’re going to keep taking the puck and putting it into their own end and take advantage of the offensive players that they have.”
The Bruins kept their same lines from Sunday night’s game when they took the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate, and after the skate coach Claude Julien said that the team will probably go with the same lineup vs. the Lightning.
“More than likely we’re looking at the same lineup,” Julien said.
The Bruins assigned forward Trent Whitfield to Providence Monday. The 34-year-old was recalled prior to the team’s three-game road trip last week, but did not get into any games.
In 43 games with Providence this season, Whitfield has seven goals and seven assists for 14 points.
The Bruins finished their three-game West Coast road trip with a 3-2 victory over the Ducks Sunday, giving them four wins in their last five games.
The B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to second-period goals from Zdeno Chara and Benoit Pouliot. Teemu Selanne‘s 24th goal of the season made it a one-goal game entering the third period.
The Ducks appeared to tie the game in the third period on a goal from Matt Belesky, but Andrew Cogliano was in the crease, causing the goal to be disallowed. The B’s increased their lead to 3-1 thanks to Brian Rolston‘s seventh goal of the season. Lubomir Visnovsky made it 3-2 with an unassisted goal with 2:29 remaining in regulation.
Marty Turco got the start in goal for the Bruins and played the whole game, ending a streak of 15 straight appearances by Tim Thomas. The veteran netminder made 24 saves on 26 shots in the start, his second as a member of the Bruins.
The Bruins will return to the Garden to face the Lightning on Tuesday. Tampa beat the B’s, 6-1, in their last meeting on March 13.
The Bruins announced a pair of signings Sunday, inking forward Justin Florek and defenseman Zach Trotman to entry-level deals. Both players will report to Providence.
Florek was drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round of the 2010 draft and just finished his senior season at Northern Michigan University. He had 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points this past year.
Trotman, a seventh-round pick of the B’s in 2010, had 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points as a senior this past season at Lake Superior State University.
Lastly, Kirk Luedeke reported Saturday night that the B’s had signed Michigan State defenseman Torey Krug.