There were numerous storylines that came from the Boston Bruins’ 2013 Stanley Cup run. The comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Gregory Campbell helping kill a penalty while skating on a broken leg, all incredible memories for Boston fans.
One of the biggest stories, though, was the rise of Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. Brought in as a last second injury replacement, Krug went from being just a random call up from the Providence Bruins to a Boston hero in the span of a week. He scored four goals in five games, helping the Bruins eliminate the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. All of the sudden, Krug not only had the Boston power play moving, he was looking like the puck-moving defenseman the team has long been coveting.
After making a name for himself last postseason, the expectations for Krug were a little higher coming into this year. Lucky for Boston, he’s more than living up to them. He’s currently second on the team with seven goals, as well as fourth in points overall with 15. Early on, the talk had been that Krug could possibly be the offensive blue-liner Boston has struggled so long to find (anyone still have a Tomas Kaberle Bruins jersey?). Now, it might be time to broaden the horizons for the former Michigan State Spartan. Let’s face it; at this point in the year, Krug is a legit contender for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.
For those who aren’t aware, of all active rookies, only San Jose Sharks phenom Tomas Hertl (18) has more points than Krug. He’s currently tied at the top of the league when it comes to goals scored by defenseman. To put that more in perspective, the players he’s tied with include Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators. Being lumped in with two All Star Norris Trophy winners is pretty decent company.
On top of that, the impact Krug has on the Bruins power play can’t be overshadowed. Boston has often iced a below-average power play unit for the past few seasons. Don’t forget, this is the team that won a Stanley Cup in 2011 despite looking historically bad on the man advantage. The unit wasn’t looking too spectacular to start this season, either. However, the Bruins have slowly but surely become a more threatening team on the power play as of late. Their 19.4% conversion rate is good for 14th in the league. The extra space on the ice is where a player of Krug’s quickness can thrive, and he’s done just that. Thanks to his help, a power play unit that once looked like it was stuck on neutral is now consistently moving and creating opportunities.
Though the Calder hype for Krug is heating up on a weekly basis, this doesn’t mean he’s in talks for the Norris Trophy, too. Fact is he’s not exactly an all-around defenseman, and his nightly minutes reflect just that. In a late game, lockdown situation, Boston is more likely to send Zdeno Chara or Dennis Seidenberg out on the ice than Krug.
Still, the impact Krug has made is something the Bruins should be more than excited about. If you would’ve told anyone in Boston’s front office that the third defenseman on their injury replacement list this past postseason would be generating Calder notice one season later, I’d like to think they’d welcome that scenario.
With last night’s game-winning overtime goal against the Penguins, Krug is doing more and more to bring himself national attention. And if he can maintain this production through the rest of the season, all of this Calder hype might just become a reality.