Friday, March 7, 2014
By Seth Lakso
BOSTON — Torey Krug had never played in an NHL game when the Bruins rallied from three goals down in the third period of Game 7 in their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
BRINGING IT: Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) is congratulated by teammates after his goal against the New York Rangers during the second period in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday in Boston.
“I was sitting there watching Game 7 much like you were as a fan,” the 22-year-old defenseman told reporters Friday. “It was unbelievable to watch, and when (Dennis) Seidenberg went down, I didn’t even really think about (what that might mean for me).”
The injury to Seidenberg prompted a promotion for Krug to the big club.
Fast forward five games and Krug, who is listed at 5-9, has become a cult hero in Boston with four goals in five games.
Krug’s fourth strike in the series came on a Bruins power-play and tied Saturday’s Game 5 at 1-1 at 3:48 of the second period and swung the momentum in the Bruins favor, as they made their way to a 3-1 win in front of 17,562 at TD Garden.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Krug, who became the first rookie defenseman in the post-expansion era to score four goals in his first five NHL playoff games. “I’m glad we clinched tonight. It was a great experience. I just tried to get open and in a position to get my shot through.”
Asked what he thought of his young defenseman’s play in this series, Bruins coach Claude Julien replied: “He was magic for us in this series. To score that many goals and the confidence that he’s shown, his play in this series has been pretty outstanding. He’s a player that we’ve always felt good about in our organization and he’s showing what he’s all about.”
Krug’s play, along with the Bruins’ fourth line, had Rangers coach John Tortorella frustrated all series.
And he made note of that in his postgame news conference.
“Especially the kid — what’s his name, Krug? — they got a lot of offense from their back end, he led the way,” Tortorella said. “Funny how it works with guys coming into the lineups.”
After Friday’s skate at TD Garden, Julien told reporters that the guys on his fourth line weren’t dropping the gloves with the Rangers because he saw it as an unfair trade-off, given how well his fourth line has played.
“I certainly don’t want to see one of mine necessarily in the penalty box with one of theirs, because it plays to their advantage,” he said.
Ultimately, it was the fourth line that proved Julien right and put the Bruins ahead for good late in the second period when Daniel Paille picked Roman Hamrlik’s pocket and flipped a puck on net that eventually found the stick of Gregory Campbell and then the back of the net.
“We (fourth-liners) try hard,” said Campbell, who scored an empty-netter late in the third. “(Henrik Lundqvist) is an exceptional goalie and it’s not easy to score on him. Our game’s straightforward and it’s not pretty, but sometimes that’s how you have to score on guys like that.”
Julien made sure to send more credit in the direction of that fourth line.
“That line makes the coach look good,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that because they reward us with the kind of play they turned in tonight. We’re known as a team that rolls four lines and I’m not a coach that rolls four lines because I want to. I roll four lines because I know I’ve got the depth to roll four lines. If I was coaching a team that didn’t have four lines, I would no doubt shorten my bench.
“They just keep rewarding us with big goals and there’s no doubt that that line played a big role in the series. We’re moving on and they certainly deserve a lot of credit for that.”