Torey Krug was winning battles, big and small, Monday night. (AP)
There is a reason the Bruins were so high on Torey Krug going into the playoffs last spring.
They knew the 22-year-old had great puck-carrying ability, great speed and a laser of a shot. All three of those qualities were on display throughout the team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals. Turns out, Claude Julien is trying to unleash them more this season and overtime 4-on-4 play is perfectly suited to Krug’s skill set.
“Yeah, he gets around, he seems to find those gaps and everything else, those holes, and moves around really well,” Julien said after Krug unloaded a cannon past Marc-Andre Fleury Monday night just 34 seconds into overtime for the 4-3 game-winner. “So there’s no doubt it’s an area for him such as other players in the league; you look at guys like [Kris] Letang and other defensemen like that that love that kind of space because they move around so well. Tonight he was in the right place – Marchy [Brad Marchand] made a great pass there – but he picked that top corner; he knew where he was going with that shot.”
Krug knows in 4-on-4 hockey during overtime, he’s going to have more freedom, more space to maneuver.
“I love it,” Krug beamed. “A lot more room on the ice to skate and play with the puck, it’s more of a possession game, you’re not just chipping pucks up the wall and if you watch me play you understand I like to play with the puck so it’s a lot more fun for me for sure.”
He didn’t take long to take advantage Monday.
“It starts with the faceoff,” Krug said. “We had good puck pursuit, I don’t remember much of it but Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made an unbelievable play to me on the far side. Their forwards were cheating a little bit, and I just missed the shot wide on that one and then we recovered the puck and it was just calm composure with the puck, especially up high on the blueline – those are dangerous areas. Our guys were keeping track of the puck and we had really good plays.
“The key is to make sure you hit the net, because if you don’t, it’s ramming out the other way and they’re going to get a break on that. There were a few times when I missed the net; right before I scored there was a shot that, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made an unbelievable pass to the middle and I got down there and I missed the net and I rode up the boards so, your focus is just getting in on that.”
Maybe it was the distasteful way the Bruins lost to St. Louis in a shootout last Thursday or maybe he just wants to avoid the shootout altogether, but Julien has decided to get offensive in the five-minute overtime, going with three forwards and one defenseman. And that one defenseman, as it turns out, is one of Julien’s best offensive weapons.
“It’s great, I like it,” Krug said, shocking no one. “You’re in attack mode, you’re trying to win the game, and it shows something to us and the other team that we’re trying to win the game; we’re not just sitting back and content with a shootout. It definitely can be risky at times, but we have the personnel to be able to do that.”
And being aggressive is definitely one way to overcome the sense of shell shock when Sidney Crosby ties the game with three-tenths of a second left in regulation.
“That’s tough,” Krug admitted. “It’s crazy how it happened but there’s no room to sit back and sulk, you’ve got to make sure you get in there and get right back at it otherwise they’re going to take advantage of something, you know, a guy sulking or something.”