Krug is latest rookie defenseman to step up for Bruins
BOSTON -- If ice time and responsibility are the surest signs of a coaching staff's faith in a player, then there's no one on the Boston Bruins bench who doubts the abilities of defenseman Torey Krug.
In his debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Krug earned 16:41 of ice time, including shifts on the power play and penalty kill. As a bonus, he scored his first NHL goal -- regular season or playoffs.
Krug's slap shot from the top of the left circle 2:55 into the third period tied the game at 2-2, setting up the Bruins' 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers at TD Garden.
"Honestly, there wasn't too much nerves," said Krug, who'd played in three NHL games prior to Thursday night. "These guys in here are an unbelievable group of guys, the confidence that the coaching staff showed in me and the other guys showed it. I felt very comfortable out there."
Bartkowski and Hamilton were key figures in the Bruins' Game 7 win in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. That left Krug as the only untested blueliner in Boston's lineup.
Consider Krug officially tested. And he passed that test with flying colors.
"It was Torey's first game, obviously. Not only did he score a big goal, but he just moved that puck so well," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "A lot of times, he played against their third line, which is a pretty heavy line. I thought he handled them extremely well."
Krug nearly set up David Krejci for a power-play goal early in the second period. Then with Zdeno Chara in the penalty box for hooking, Krug was asked to penalty kill for 38 seconds, and he helped keep the Rangers off the board.
"It was great. I don't penalty kill too much. Obviously, my size plays a role in that," the 5-foot-9 defenseman said. "But I was just doing my job, not trying to do too much. I think that's the key when you [kill penalties]. Once you overcommit you're going to capitalize on your mistakes."
Because of collective bargaining rules, 19-year-old Hamilton has been with Boston all season. Krug, 22, and Bartkowski, 24, have spent most of the season with Boston's Providence affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Bartkowski has seen enough of Krug to not be surprised by his teammate's Game 1 performance.
"The goal was a bonus," Bartkowski said, "but I think he's an offensive defenseman that has some skills. So, you kind of expect it out of him."
Earlier this week, Krug was spared the 4-1/2-hour bus ride to Wilkes-Barre for a Providence playoff game when the Bruins called him up because of the injury to Seidenberg. After Thursday, minor-league bus rides might be a thing of the past for him.