And that has been the focus that Julien wants all of his defensemen to have, including Krug’s fellow rookie teammates on the blueline, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski, as they get their first taste of postseason play.
“I said, ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,’” Julien told reporters, of his message to Krug. “I don’t want him playing on his heels. In other words, I told him, ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and play your game.’ So that was basically what I told him when he first got here."
"I said, ‘You know, I know how good you are, I know what you can bring to this team, just go out there and do it.’ I think it’s important, but the last thing you want to do is get those guys to play on their heels or play afraid to make a mistake.
“Confidence goes a long way in this game. When coaches are able to give players confidence, it shows because it makes a big difference," added Julien. "Instead of a guy making a mistake and looking at the bench every time, seeing if the coach is mad at him or will take away some ice time, you’ve got to let him play. And those guys right now, I give them full credit for taking that advice and showing that they’re very capable of playing in the playoffs and on our hockey club.”
Defensemen Krug and Johnny Boychuk scored two of the Bruins’ five goals, and five of the team’s 15 points, in Boston’s 5-2 win over the Rangers, that put them up 2-0 as the series now shifts to New York.
In the two games against the Rangers, nine of the B’s 24 points, and four of the eight goals, have come from the blueline.
The Bruins’ first goal came from Krug – who also assisted on Gregory Campbell’s second period tally – for the second straight game. It was the 22-year-old’s second goal in as many games, making him the fourth Bruin in team history to score a goal in each of his first two playoff games. The others are Cooney Weiland (1929), Don Gallinger (1943), and Tyler Seguin (2011). He's also only one of 10 Bruins (Bartkowski included) to score an NHL playoff goal before getting a goal in the regular season.
“I’ve said it time and time again, I come into this locker room, very comfortable, calm,” said Krug of where his poise comes from. “I get to watch some of the best professionals in the world prepare for games like this, as if it’s any other game.
“I have a lot of guys to lean on and they all give me confidence back. It’s unbelievable.”
One of those defensemen Krug has been able to learn from is Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara. No. 33 has been impressed with the play of his fellow D-men, and his teammates all contributing at different times.
“It’s nice to get contribution from players that are not always putting numbers on the board,” said Chara. “Gregory [Campbell] scored a goal. Krug scored a goal. Johnny [Boychuk] got a goal, so we have different people stepping up. That’s important.”
Julien can see the team getting a lift from the performance of the young defensemen, who have come in with three veterans injured on the back end - Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden - and played with the poise and confidence he expected from them.
“Absolutely," said the B's bench boss, on if their excitement is felt throughout the team. "I think it’s exciting for our guys to see some young players come in and contribute the way they have."
"It may sound like I’m piping off here after the fact that they played two games, but when those guys were coming in, I really wasn’t worried about the lack of impact they’d have, more than I had confidence in them."
“When you look at Krug, he’s playing against their third line a lot of times, which is [Brian] Boyle, [Taylor] Pyatt, and [Derek] Dorsett, which are all heavy players and he’s handled himself extremely well. Bartkowski’s playing against their top lines every once in a while. He’s done a good job. Those young guys have done a great job.
“And what can you say about Hamilton? Most of the time he’s out there against [Rick] Nash, with Zdeno [Chara]. But our young guys have done a good job and I couldn’t be happier for them. [I’m] extremely pleased with what they’ve brought to our team.”
Boychuk, who fired a shot past Henrik Lundqvist to put the Bruins up, 3-2, at 12:08 of the second period, has been paired with Bartkowski over the past few games, and has also been impressed with the way the young defensemen have fit in seamlessly.
“They’ve been amazing,” said Boychuk. “They’re making a case for themselves to stay in the lineup and that’s what you need. You want to stay in the lineup and the way that they’re playing, they’ve been playing very, very good and responsible."
"Even in the D-zone I’ve been watching they’ve been battling hard and doing the right things, and that’s what you need.”
"They've stepped in and haven't missed a beat," said blueliner Adam McQuaid, who has been paired with Krug and had an assist of his own on Campbell's goal.
"We have a lot of confidence in them."