BOSTON - Over the course of NHL history - for good or for bad - every team that has gone on a lengthy run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs ends up defined by a certain play or moment.
"There's a lot of plays that people look back on in playoffs and talk about for a long time," said Brad Marchand. "That will be one of them."
That, of course, was Torey Krug's earth-shattering hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. The thunderous smack midway through the third period sent TD Garden into a frenzy, creating a buzz that continued to make waves across the city - and social media - a day later.
"I think everyone in Boston has seen it," said Jake DeBrusk.
Video: STL@BOS, Gm1: Krug lays huge check on Thomas
It all began with a battle in front of the Bruins' net. With Boston ahead 3-2 and attempting to clear the zone, Krug became engaged with Blues forward David Perron in the shadow of Tuukka Rask.
"That's been the swagger of our team for a long, long time, not just this playoff run, but for years before this," Krug said of the B's gritty style of play.
After a slash or two each way, Perron grabbed hold of Krug and wrestled him to the ice.
"Every game in the NHL, since I've been in the league…I'm a 5-foot-9 defenseman," said Krug. "I'd probably be doing the same thing if I was on the opposing team. I'd probably try to run me right through the boards."
As Krug tried to escape Perron's grasp, the 12-year NHL veteran ripped off Krug's helmet and the two became entangled in the slot.
"I'm just glad I got a haircut a few days ago," Krug joked.
Perron eventually stepped over Krug and made his way to the St. Louis bench.
"That gave me some goose bumps," said David Backes. "He's battling in our zone. I don't know what kind of twister game they were playing in front of our net."
Overall, the encounter lasted 13 seconds.
"He's the type of guy that never gives up," said Rask. "I saw him battle in front of the net and I just wanted to tell him to get out of there during the rush, you know, but…you're playing in the Finals, so there's going to be battles all over the ice."
When Krug finally got free, he raced toward the St. Louis zone, slowing up as he crossed the blue line. Krug - sans helmet, remember - glided in along the wall and deked as if he was going to play the loose puck.
"It was a great part of the game," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Had a good battle in front, two guys going at it hard. He came down the ice - I think he was actually joining the play to try to get involved offensively."
Instead, he let Thomas get a stick on it, before delivering a bone-rattling, shoulder-to-shoulder body check at the hash marks.
"He thinks he's playing thirty, forty years ago," said Backes. "That was an exchange, I think, that was Torey Krug establishing himself in this series. And that was from my perspective a big boost."
After the hit, Krug rolled off of Thomas with his flowing locks exposed to the breeze, the Garden crowd roaring with approval.
"The no helmet, the way it went, it was old school," said Cassidy. "I thought it was a good energy boost for our team. The crowd enjoyed it. Those hits usually are."
"I think he had no helmet on so he wanted to make sure he made the highlights to make that hit," said Rask.
"It's not often that you see a guy throw a hit like that without a helmet on, especially a small person," said Marchand, adding a jab at his noted social media adversary. "It was fun to see."
Krug eventually made his way across the St. Louis zone, where he shot a glare toward the Blues' net. He returned to the Bruins' bench to stick taps and head pats from his teammates.
"I don't know what they were feeling on their bench," said Krug. "But if it pushes them back and catches them off-guard then great for our team. But I think it gave our team energy and that's all you're trying to do out there. Just try to make little plays throughout the game that push your team in the right direction and that was one of them."
For a player that is often appreciated far more for his offensive abilities and power-play acumen, that show of physicality is a reminder of Krug's other side - the one that, along with Brandon Carlo, has made the Bruins' second pair one to be reckoned with during this postseason.
"Good for Torey. He's had a real good playoff," said Cassidy. "People know he's a puck-mover, people know he's got power play acumen, but he's played heavy minutes against good players every night. I appreciate that, his teammates appreciate that. He's building on his overall game.
"He's always wanted to do that and this playoffs has allowed him to sort of get out of that label of just an offensive defenseman. He's been real good for us night in and night out."
The Bruins held on over the final 10-plus minutes on Monday night, adding a Marchand empty-netter for a 4-2 Game 1 victory - one that has been defined not by Connor Clifton's momentum-shifting marker or Sean Kuraly's deciding third-period tally, but instead by a body check that no one in Boston will soon forget.
"This isn't a team we see too often, so the rivalry factor isn't there," said Krug. "But I'm sure by the end of the series, it will be something to talk about for a very long time."
Video: Torey Krug talks contribution from back end