BOSTON -- If Torey Krug was treated like a rookie in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last Wednesday, the defenseman got the veteran treatment from Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien in Game 2 Saturday night at United Center.
Krug, who is officially a rookie and is finishing up his first full year of pro hockey, was pinned to the bench in Game 1 after a third-period giveaway led to the first goal of the Chicago Blackhawks' rally from two goals down en route to a triple-overtime win.
Although Julien gave Krug a regular shift in the overtimes (Krug finished with 19:36 of ice time), there were some questions about whether the 22-year-old would get to keep skating in the Cup Final. But there he was in the action again for Game 2, which the Bruins won 2-1 in overtime to even the series.
"I don't think about that," Krug said about the possibility of being a scratch. "I'm just trying to do my job and take care of what I can control. And if I don't do that, there is a chance I won't play. But you know I'm not worried about it. The coaching staff has a lot of confidence in me. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I'm just going out and trying to help the team."
Krug can head into Game 3 Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) at TD Garden with the type of confidence that comes from being allowed to make up for his mistakes. Julien skipped the benching in Game 2 and played Krug for 18:02, despite Krug making almost the same exact mistake in the first period. With his teammates going for a line change, Krug carried the puck to the red line and tried to make a play rather than a dump-in.
Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad jumped off the bench and picked off the pass. Right wing Marian Hossa barely got any strength behind his shot on the rush, but the Blackhawks maintained possession and the sequence in the Boston zone ended with center Jonathan Toews' disallowed goal. Upon review of the play, the official ruled that the whistle had blown.
"Not really," Krug said in response to a question about déjà vu. "Obviously you see them get a good scoring chance out of it. And the refs made the right call. And you just [take] a little sigh of relief. But I was put out the next shift and ready to go."
NBC cameras caught Krug after Rask covered Toews' shot looking to the heavens. He didn't need to look at the bench, though, because he already knew Julien was willing to risk the odd mistake that can occur when the young blueliner is playing his game. Krug has gone four games without a point after he posted four goals and three assists in his previous seven contests.
In Julien's book, Krug needs to keep playing his style without fear.
"Extremely well," Julien said when questioned about how he thought Krug responded Saturday. "He didn't lose any confidence. Again, you look at last night, he pushed the puck up the middle again, was able to come back, nothing came out of it. But, you know, his game continued to go in the right direction. I thought he was good at moving pucks. I remember, I think before one of the goals, he kept the puck in. He was being pinched. He squeezed along the wall, made a great play, kept it going in the offensive zone. So he doesn't lack confidence. That's what I want from that young player. Don't lack confidence. The odd mistake, I know it's the Cup Finals, but there's mistakes made in the Cup Finals like anywhere else.
"I thought he handled himself well after some of the heat he was taking from the outside for that mistake in Game 1. We talked about it. I wanted him to go out there and play with the same confidence he always has. He answered that."