BOSTON -- With three of the six defensemen the Boston Bruins started the Stanley Cup Playoffs with possibly on the shelf for the start of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers, Torey Krug's dreams might come true.
"This is going to be amazing. It's what I waited my whole childhood for," Krug said after practice Wednesday at TD Garden. "You know you dream about this as a kid and you watch it on TV, and to be a part of it in itself is amazing. But I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the team win. That's what we're here for, and that's what I want to do."
Krug, who has three NHL games to his credit, was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League on Tuesday and could be in the lineup for Game 1 on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
Already missing Wade Redden and Andrew Ference for Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins lost Dennis Seidenberg to an injury on the game's first shift.
Seidenberg, Ference and Redden accounted for about 60 combined minutes of average ice time, including special-teams duties, through the series' first six games. Rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton admirably filled in during the Game 7 win that earned the Bruins their second-round berth. Bartkowski scored a goal and logged 24:51 of ice time, and Hamilton played 21:08. Both posted an even plus/minus rating.
With a third rookie possibly entering the mix, the Bruins will try to carry on and not turn Krug's dream into a nightmare.
"There's not much you can change from your approach to the game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're here to win hockey games. I think it's more about showing confidence in the guys that are going to be playing, if that's the case. Right now, the guys that played last game, you look at Hamilton and Bartkowski, I thought they handled themselves really well, especially with five [defensemen]. The confidence in those guys seems to be getting better all the time.
"It's a matter of stabilizing, I guess, your team the best you can and move forward. When you look back at situations that we see in the past, there's guys that have walked into a team and done extremely well because they just go out there and play. That's what I encouraged our guys to do, 'You guys go out there and play your game.' I don't want them to feel the pressure, I don't want them to not be comfortable or have the ability to play as well as they can. It's about encouraging them to do those kinds of things."
Prior to rejoining the Bruins, Bartkowski and Krug were playing at a pretty high level while helping Providence advance to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Hamilton, 19, has been with the Bruins all season and had been a fixture in their every-night lineup until the last couple weeks of the regular season.
"There's definitely a set system and all the forwards, all the [defensemen], stick to that," Bartkowski said. "So as a young guy stepping into that, we do the same system in Providence, so it's real easy to make the transition and step into that system."
Julien said all three injured defensemen are day-to-day and the lineup might not be set until game time. That leaves it to the healthy players to be ready to go if necessary. Based on Game 7, that won't be a problem for Bartkowski and Hamilton, who made a positive impression on the remaining Bruins veterans.
"They play well for us,” captain Zdeno Chara said. "They've been in the system, obviously, for a few years, speaking for Torey and Bartkowski. And obviously Dougie's playing his first season, but so far they're doing well. We've just got to make sure we don't get satisfied and keep working hard."
Johnny Boychuk said, "They're doing a good job. … You're out there with them and trusting your partner, and when you hear him, to make the right calls and basically doing what got you here. Because they're doing a great job. Everybody's talking about how we're down a couple [defensemen], but these guys are doing such a good job that I'm not even worried about it."