With injuries to key and experienced defensemen like Andrew Ference, Wade Redden, and most recently, Dennis Seidenberg, the Boston Bruins have had to rely on a group of young and inexperienced blueliners made up of 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton, 22-year-old Torey Krug, and 24-year-old Matt Bartkowski. All three have contributed this postseason and have found their names on the score sheet. Bartkowski scored the first goal of Game Seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Krug, who was called up from the Providence Bruins on Thursday in place of the injured Seidenberg, scored the game tying goal in Game One against the New York Rangers, a game the Bruins ended up winning in overtime, and Hamilton has an assist in the four games he has played.
“It’s about giving them the confidence,” coach Claude Julien said when asked about his young defensemen, “We have to trust that they’re good enough in areas, that they’re going to help us out and so far they’ve proven us right.
Krug would build upon his confidence and start the scoring for the Bruins as he collected a pass from Nathan Horton and snapped it past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist 5:28 into the first period. This was Krug’s second goal in as many post-season games, becoming just the fourth player and the first defenseman in Bruins team history to score a goal in both of his first two playoff games.
Krug also logged some crucial minutes on the penalty kill when Boston captain Zdeno Chara was whistled for slashing with just a little over two minutes left in the first period.
“Krug has been a good player for Providence,” said Julien, “we liked what we saw in him last year and when he was called up.”
Krug would register another point in the second period when he kept the play alive in the offensive zone, gathered the puck and fired it towards the net. The puck deflected off a New York defenseman’s skate and found its way onto Gregory Campbell’s stick, who promptly roofed a backhander past Lundqvist to give the Bruins a 2 to 1 lead.
“I come into this locker room very comfortable and calm. 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 which is unbelievable,” Krug said when asked about his confidence. He quickly added, “You have to be confident with the puck. If I’m not making plays I’m not effective and they’re going to go out and find a 6 foot 2 defenseman that can do the same thing without the puck.”
Thanks to the play of Krug and goals from Brad Marchand, Johnny Boychuk, and Milan Lucic the Bruins went on to beat the Rangers by a score of 5 to 2 and take a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series.
Coach Julien gave Krug some advice before he played in Game One, he told him, “Don’t be afraid to mistakes.” Krug obviously took that advice to heart and has played extremely well for Boston. If Krug continues to play this well, it’s New York who should be afraid.