Joe Corvo, Matt Hunwick, Steven Kampfer, Tomas Kaberle, Dennis Wideman. These are just a few notable examples of the Boston Bruins‘ struggles in finding a puck-moving defenseman. Sure, they have some shutdown blue liners in Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk. At the same time, it seems like it’s been years since they had a defenseman who could generate offense. As you can see in the list above, it hasn’t been without a lot of failed attempts.
It’s one of the main reasons the team drafted Dougie Hamilton in 2011. He had the offensive skillset the team was hoping for, though he’s seemed to struggle at times in his own end of the ice. Coming into last year’s postseason, Hamilton watched the first few games from the press box as a healthy scratch. Injuries opened up the door for himself, along with a couple call-ups from Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Little did the fans know, one of these minor leaguers was about to steal the show.
Torey Krug, standing at just 5’9”, certainly didn’t carry a lot of expectations with him when he made his postseason debut against the New York Rangers in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. About a week later, he had become a household name in Boston, as is typically the case when you score four goals in five games. Krug’s one-timer gave Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist nightmares, while his overall speed seemed to reignite the Bruins anytime he was on the ice. While Hamilton had the allure of being a first round draft pick, Krug came in and immediately won the fans over.
The fear, though, was whether or not this was a sign of things to come or just a flash in the pan. The Bruins had seen this in the past, with players such as Hunwick and Kampfer, only to watch it all disappear. That Krug didn’t score a goal after the Rangers series only put more weight in those cautions. However, with the departure of Andrew Ference and Wade Redden in the offseason, the Bruins had a spot open on their back end, giving Krug a chance to prove himself.
At the moment, he’s removing any and all nerves about the possibility of being a one-round wonder.
Though he only has nine points on the year, much of that stat is weighted by his six goals. This puts him second on the team overall, one behind current leader Milan Lucic. That a defenseman is that close to leading a team in goals says a lot about his offensive prowess. Krug’s shot is still sharp and frighteningly accurate. When he’s given a seam to move in on net, he’s one of the more dangerous blue liners in the league.
Krug is also continuing to bring the effort with his speed. His ability to skate the puck out of the defensive zone prevents Boston from getting bogged down in their own end. When he’s on the power play, he’s constantly moving in attempts to make the unit dangerous. Though the Bruins are still a little inconsistent on the man-advantage, with Krug they always seem to be generating more opportunities.
Boston still can’t claim they’ve finally found the diamond in the rough that is their search for a puck-moving defenseman. At 33 games overall, the sample size is still way too small to know everything they have in Krug. That said, he’s already erased doubt that he can maintain the level of play we saw last May against the Rangers.
One thing’s for sure; the Bruins definitely hope Krug isn’t the bust that the aforementioned names turned out to be. At the very least, the 30+ games they’ve gotten from Krug are infinitely better than anything they got from Kaberle.