|Preparing for Torey Krug an unusual challenge for Penguins||05.30.13 at 2:44 pm ET|
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.”
|Matt Bartkowski on M&M: ‘It’s not my call’ who suits up for Bruins||05.28.13 at 2:16 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to chat about the upcoming Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins.
Bartkowski and fellow call-up Torey Krug have played well since joining the team in the postseason following injuries to veteran blueliners. With Andrew Ference and Wade Redden back skating with the team, coach Claude Julien might soon have to make a roster decision.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” Bartkowski said. “I’m just trying to keep playing and assuming that I am going to play in the games. It’s not my call once it comes down it, who plays. All I can really do is put my best foot forward and see what happens.”
Bartkowski said the fact that he started the postseason playing in the AHL rather than sitting in Boston has played to his advantage.
“I think it was key that I went back down to play in Providence,” he said. “I think if I was just sitting up here and riding the bike, I don’t think I could have played the way I have. We were playing playoff hockey in Providence. It’s not the same level or speed or anything like that, but all in all, it’s still playoff hockey and you’ve got to bring the same intensity. That made a world of difference in being able to prepare for the role I’ve assumed up here.”
A Pittsburgh native who grew up a fan of the Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr-led Penguins of the 1990s, Bartkowski knows the Bruins will have their hands full with this edition of the Pens.
“Pittsburgh, you don’t want to call them an All-Star team, but they’ve got a lot of high-end talent,” he said. “I guess they’re more of a risk-reward team [than the Rangers]. I think it will be a pretty good matchup. We’re pretty defensively sound and we’re a strong team. It will be a fun series to play in.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Those defensemen are playing unbelievable’||05.20.13 at 10:16 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the B’s-Rangers series.
The Bruins took a 2-0 series lead with Sunday’s 5-2 victory, as Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers continued to play below par.
“I think they had their chances, to tell you the truth,” Thornton said. “I think the second period, it could have went either way. We were fortunate to get out of that with the lead. It could have been a different game if Tuukka [Rask] didn’t stand on his head for us in the second period.”
The big story of this series has been the play of the Bruins’ young defensemen, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, who have sparked the Bruins with their fresh legs.
“Those defensemen are playing unbelievable,” Thornton said. “Torey Krug, obviously — not just the goal and the assist, those are great plays — but there were some plays he made that probably went unnoticed during the game that made our lives as forwards a heck of a lot easier. Some of the vision he has and some of the plays he made look easy, but they weren’t really easy plays, especially in the neutral zone.”
Thornton said he hasn’t thought much about what will happen when injured defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are ready to return.
“I don’t know what the timeline is for those guys, but I’m sure Claude [Julien] will have some decisions to make once everyone’s healthy,” Thornton said. “Not easy decisions, I’m sure, but good decisions. It’s nice when you have that many options. It’s better than the opposite, when you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, we can’t find anyone to put in the lineup.’ ”
As for the possibility of hard feelings if a veteran sits in favor of a rookie, Thornton insisted it won’t be issue.
“Not in our locker room,” he said. “I’ve been that veteran guy squeezed out of the lineup for the playoffs. It’s all about winning this time of year. There’s no time for any personal feelings or agendas. It’s all about the team. We have a good bunch of guys in that room, and everyone’s aware of it.”
Every year, a player comes out of no where to become a big factor in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That man for the Bruins this year so far is 5-foot-9 Torey Krug.
He did it again on Sunday. He scored the game’s first goal in the first period, beating Henrik Lundqvist. He did it again on the second goal, pinching in from his perch on the left point and firing a shot on goal that led to a rebound that was put away by Gregory Campbell.
Krug has been instant offense at the blue line for the Bruins. For a 22-year-old rookie in his second NHL playoff game, Krug looks like a trusty veteran.
“Yeah, well I’ve said it time and time again, I come into this locker room, very comfortable, calm,” Krug said after Sunday’s 5-2 rout of the Rangers in Game 2. “I get to watch some of the best professionals in the world prepare for games like this, as if it’s any other game. So, I have a lot of guys to lean on and they all give me confidence back. So, it’s unbelievable.”
What is so very striking about Krug is his confidence with the puck. Much like Dougie Hamilton displayed early in the season, Krug looks like he wants the puck at every chance, either rushing up the ice or setting up on the power play. Why is that?
“Well I’m a player. I’m 5-9, I’m not very big, I have to play with the puck to be an impact player,” he answered. “So, for me, you’ve got to be confident with the puck. If I’m not making plays, I’m not going to be effective and guys are going to go out there and they’re just going to find a 6-2 guy that can do the same thing without the puck. So, you just got to be confident and play with the puck.
On his goal, he managed to use his skates to control the puck, setting up the shot on his stick.
“That’s a skill that sometimes you work on it after practice,” he said. “You don’t have to work on it too much. It’s just a couple of extra reps here or there at the end, picking up pucks with your feet. So, it’s just something that I try to do, and I was lucky enough that it bounced my way.”
And his set-up of Campbell’s goal?
“It’s the same thing,” he said. “All that comes with confidence and being calm. If you’re freaking out, out there because the pucks not exactly where it is, you’re going to get yourself in trouble.”
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|Brad Marchand the OT hero this time as Bruins take Game 1||05.16.13 at 10:48 pm ET|
Overtime once again was the Bruins’ friend as Brad Marchand scored the game-winner to give the B’s a 3-2 win over the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night at TD Garden. The goal was Marchand’s first of the playoffs, and the Bruins now have won two straight overtime games and all three overtime contests this postseason.
After a scoreless first period, Zdeno Chara got a slap shot through from the point that trickled past Henrik Lundqvist, ending the goalie’s shutout streak at 152:23. Ryan McDonagh scored on a laser from the left point that Tuukka Rask didn’t see with bodies in front of him. The goal came with 1.3 seconds left in the second, and Derek Stepan scored 14 seconds into the third to give the Rangers the lead on two goals in a span of 15.3 seconds. It was Torey Krug, playing in his first career NHL playoff game after playing only one regular-season game for Boston this season, who tied it with a slap shot on the power play.
Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton were called upon Monday, as Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden were out of action due to various undisclosed injuries. Game 2 will be played Sunday at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• The Rangers might regret not taking advantage of this one later in the series if those defensemen are back. On the other hand, give guys like Krug and Hamilton credit for making the most of their responsibilities. Hamilton showed some of that much-talked-about poise on his pass to Krug on the power play to set up Boston’s second goal.
• David Krejci picked up the primary assist on Chara’s goal, which means he now has an NHL-best 14 points (five goals, nine assists) through eight games this postseason.
• Though they didn’t score on it, the Bruins turned in a very strong power play following a Derek Dorsett interference penalty in overtime. The B’s managed six shots on goal during the man advantage — three from Chara and one apiece from Seguin, Hamilton and Jaromir Jagr.
• Once again, the back end was a source of offense for the Bruins. After the B’s got six goals from their defensemen against the Maple Leafs, they got two more Thursday from Chara and Krug.
• Speaking of the Bruins’ D, Bartkowski is just oodles more confident these days than he had been in the past with the Bruins. The same kid who was once too afraid of messing up is skating with the puck, hitting guys and doing everything in between. After losing his stick in the neutral zone, Bartkowski lit up Rick Nash, much to the delight of the crowd. Bartkowski was on the ice for both New York goals, but he’s been a very important part of this team’s defense since stepping in. He was third on the Bruins in time-on-ice in regulation, skating 21:55.
|Torey Krug enters the mix with Bruins defense banged up||05.14.13 at 1:50 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli offered no updates on the team’s injured defensemen Tuesday at TD Garden, though he did say that the Bruins will recall defenseman Torey Krug from Providence.
Wade Redden and Andrew Ference missed Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and Dennis Seidenberg didn’t play after the first two minutes due to an injury suffered on his first shift. Chiarelli gave no updates on any of the three players, though he said that Redden would not be able to play if the B’s were to have a game Tuesday. The Bruins will begin their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Rangers Thursday at TD Garden.
Krug is a left-shot defenseman, which will be a welcomed addition given that Seidenberg, Redden and Ference are all lefties. In 70 games for Providence this season (including the playoffs), Krug has 13 goals and 35 assists for 48 points this season.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins return Torey Krug to Providence||03.29.13 at 7:36 pm ET|
The Bruins returned defenseman Torey Krug to Providence Friday, two days after recalling the 21-year-old from their AHL affiliate.
Krug was recalled on Wednesday after the Bruins and Flames agreed to the since-derailed Jarome Iginla trade. Krug played Wednesday night against the Canadiens in place of Matt Bartkowski, who was scratched because of his inclusion in the trade. The Michigan State product picked up an assist in the loss to the Habs.
Krug has two assists in three career NHL games since being signed out of college last season. He has 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points and a minus-6 rating in 55 games for Providence this season.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
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