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Preparing for Torey Krug an unusual challenge for Penguins 05.30.13 at 2:44 pm ET
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A major source of offense for the Bruins is a guy the Penguins don't know. (AP)

PITTSBURGH — Torey Krug: X-factor?

That could indeed be the case. Think about it: The Bruins’ biggest source of scoring the last round is a guy the Penguins have only seen once when he was right out of college last season. Furthermore, they don’t have extensive video to go off of because prior to the Rangers’ series, he’d only played three career NHL games.

Yet in that Rangers series, he became a difference-maker. Playing only because the Bruins had three injuries on their blue line, Krug became an offensive weapon with four goals in five games (becoming the first defenseman in NHL history to score four goals in his first five playoff contests), three of which came on the power play.

The Penguins aren’t used to Krug, and they aren’t used to the Bruins having a weapon like that on the power play. So what do they do?

“Don’t take penalties, I guess,” Penguins defenseman and penalty-killer Brooks Orpik said after Thursday’s practice.

The Penguins have one of the best offensive defensemen in the game in Kris Letang, but they haven’t seen anyone bring that type of skill set to Boston’s blue line in quite a while. That makes preparing for the B’s that much harder, because they’ve seen plenty of this Bruins team over the years and know what it is: Well-rounded, tough, defensively sound with strong goaltending. But at the same time, it’s a team that’s been generally wretched on the power play since Marc Savard went down. Now they have Krug, and they can’t use their experience to prepare for him.

“In preparation and looking at their team, I’ve looked back at things from not only this year, but last year — how they play, tendencies, face-offs — so you think you have a good feeling about the Boston Bruins and their team and how they play and players on the team, but that’s the one element you don’t have much of an idea of at all,” Dan Bylsma said. “We’ve watched him play, we’ve watched the tape, but he adds an element to the team that really hasn’t been an element for the Boston Bruins over the last couple of years, even going back to their Stanley Cup year.

“They’ve won a lot of hockey games and that hasn’t really been an element, so you can watch him, you can do video tape on him, but the element for him skating for his team in the neutral zone that he’s added the last series, him at the blue line, his mobility across the blue line, his shot, that’s something we haven’t quite seen. [He's] really kind of a variable we have to insert with our video and compare him to other players and what other players do for teams, but it’s going to be the first time we see him really on the ice when we get to Game 1.”

The Bruins’ power play finished 26th in the league with a 14.8 percent success rate in the regular season, though they were more successful against Pittsburgh with a 2-for-8 showing in their three meetings this season. None of those games featured Krug, as he only played in one regular season game this year, which was against the Canadiens.

Pittsburgh’s penalty kill has the third-best success rate this postseason (second among remaining teams, with Chicago leading the way), as the Penguins have kept their opponent from scoring on 89.7 percent of their opponents’ advantages. They hope to keep that up against the Bruins’ power play, no matter who’s out there.

“Obviously with [Zdeno] Chara and Krug and [Johnny] Boychuk, they’ve got some big shooters,” Orpik said. “You look at the talent level they have, they can go in spurts. They can be down for a while and they can be really hot for a while, so just like any other series, I think discipline is the biggest thing. If you give power plays enough opportunities, eventually they’re going to burn you.”

Read More: Brooks Orpik, Dan Bylsma, Kris Letang, Torey Krug Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Andy Brickley on D&C: Johnny Boychuk injury ‘didn’t look good’ 04.04.12 at 9:45 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss the state of the team heading into the playoffs, the injury to defenseman Johnny Boychuk, as well as the embellishment rule, among other things.

In the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to the Penguins Tuesday night, Boychuk went down on the ice and had to be helped off by teammates without being able to put any weight on his injured left leg. Boychuk is scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday, but Brickley said that the injury might very well be a costly one.

“I have some experience with bad knee injuries and I didn’t like the way that one looked,” Brickley said. “I’m hoping that he’s young enough and he’s durable enough that he can withstand it and that it’s not a long-term injury. It didn’t look good.”

With only a handful of games remaining before the regular season comes to an end, it can be hard for some playoff-bound teams to maintain their focus on their final games. Brickley said that regardless of the circumstances, teams like the Bruins just have to keep playing hard.

“The intention is in the final three games when you know you’re not changing slots as far as who you play in the first round, you’ve still got to play the game at 100 percent, you’ve got to play it hard and you’ve got to play it in the right way,” Brickley said. “The minute you start taking short cuts or you don’t play at 100 percent, real bad things happen.”

The Bruins are a team that’s not unfamiliar with facing opposing players that dive, and they experienced it Tuesday night as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang acted as if he were hit the face with a stick from a Bruins player. However, the embellishment rule, which penalizes players for for diving, was not called in that instance, something Brickley thought was a mistake.

“Anytime a player snaps his head back like that as if he got a stick in the face when it’s not even close, it’s akin to taking a dive when somebody tries a very subtle poke,” Brickley said. “You see guys put one hand on their stick, put it in the midsection of a player and the player flops. There was a time when they really started cracking down on the diving penalties and that’s basically embellishment and that’s what you saw last night except it was the snap of the neck by Letang.

“It goes to the integrity of the game and the integrity of the player. It’s a man’s game played by men, and you hate to see when players do that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Kris Letang, Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins look to rebound from loss to Canadiens as they take on Penguins in Pittsburgh 01.10.11 at 2:03 am ET
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The Bruins scored five third-period goals in a 7-4 victory the last time they visited Pittsburgh. (AP)

The Bruins (21-12-7) are in the midst of a rather tough stretch in their schedule, and it continues Monday night against the Penguins (26-13-4) in Pittsburgh. While the Penguins, whose 56 points are the second-most in the Eastern Conference, are looking for their first win without Sidney Crosby (concussion), the Bruins are simply looking for anything that can make people forget about their collapse against the Canadiens Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime loss.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The Penguins are 14-8-1 at CONSOL Energy Center, and only the Capitals and Canadiens have more home points this season. On Saturday, they dropped a 4-0 contest to the Wild at home.

- Despite getting one point in a game in which they should have had two in Montreal, the B’s continue to rack up the points on the road. They are 12-5-4 in away games and haven’t lost a road contest in regulation since Dec. 16.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- Zero. That’s how many shots Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci combined for on Saturday. Especially in Lucic’s case, that’s about as inexcusable as it gets for a leading goal-scorer, and as we pointed out after the game, it’s something that has happened eight times this season.

- Kris Letang, one of four Penguins voted into the All-Star game in the fan-balloting process, is fourth among defensemen with 36 points. That’s already a career-high for the 23-year old, and he’s on pace to finish his fourth season with 69 points. Letang leads the Penguins with a plus-21 rating.

- If you’re a fan of power play goals, you might want to watch a different game. Over the last nine games, the Penguins are 3-for-32 on the man advantage, while the B’s are 3-for-27. The Bruins have gone five games without a power play goal.

To make matters worse for each team’s power play, they’ll be going against stiff competition. The Penguins and Bruins’ penalty kills rank first and seventh in the league, respectively.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- What will the Bruins’ blueline look like? The Bruins recalled Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis Sunday, and reports indicate he’ll take the place of  Adam McQuaid in the lineup. The Bruins have been mum on what ails McQuaid. Maybe he caught the “discomfort” that’s going around.

Speaking of which, whether or not Nathan Horton makes his way back into the lineup is another thing to keep an eye on. “Discomfort” is the only word of information the B’s will divulge regarding why the 25-year-old missed Saturday’s game.

Regardless of who the B’s have out, they won’t have the right to complain while in Pittsburgh. Crosby, who still leads the league with 32 goals and 66 points, has been out for the last two games, with the team going 0-1-1 in his absence.

- The Bruins pulled off a memorable one vs. Penguins last time they were in town. The B’s came back from a 4-2 deficit with five third-period goals and took a 7-4 victory behind a three-point night from Mark Recchi on Nov. 10.

- Will the Lucic-Savard-Ryder line live to see another day? With the way it performed on Saturday (two shots on goal, both of which were from Michael Ryder), Bruins fans should hope not. Savard just isn’t himself, and his presence on a top line isn’t helping the B’s quest for offense right now.

- While on the subject of Savard, Monday will be the center’s first trip back to Pittsburgh since suffering his concussion on a hit from Matt Cooke last March 7.

- This will be the first of two match-ups between the two teams over the next week. After the B’s leave Pittsburgh, they will return to the Garden, where they will face the Senators and Flyers this week before hosting the Penguins on Saturday. After Saturday, the two teams won’t meet again until they close out their season series on March 5.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Kris Letang, Marc Savard, Matt Bartkowski Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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