Breakouts will be key for young B's defensemen

Breakouts will be key for young B's defensemen
May 15, 2013, 4:00 pm
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BOSTON – Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug has this going for him: He’s already watched as fellow young blue-liners Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton have stepped in and done the job when called upon for the Black and Gold.

The 22-year-old Krug was called up to Boston on Tuesday afternoon when it became clear that Wade Redden, Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg all might be out of commission to start their second-round series against the New York Rangers. It’s expected that three young defensemen will be in the lineup for Boston in Thursday night’s Game 1, and they’ll all have to play poised, mistake-free hockey as Bartkowski and Hamilton did against the Leafs.

“I think it’s about showing confidence in the guys that are going to be playing if that’s the case,” said Claude Julien. “You look at Hamilton and Bartkowski, and I thought they handled themselves really well, especially with the five D’s. The confidence in those guys seems to be getting better all the time.

“It’s a matter of stabilizing the team the best you can, and then moving forward. I don’t want them to feel the pressure. I don’t want them to not be comfortable, or not have the ability to play as well as they can. We know what they’re capable of bringing. It’s about putting them into positions where they can bring that part of their game to the team.”

Krug has a handful of NHL games under his belt, but the youngster knows that the Stanley Cup playoffs will be a step beyond the AHL playoff series he’d been engaged in for the last few weeks. If the Bruins get the puck-moving guy that put up 13 goals and 45 points for the P-Bruins this season, or the one that was leading Providence with shots on net during the playoffs, they should be in pretty good shape temporarily.

It’s up to Krug to try and bring that to the table while overcoming the nervousness that human nature dictates will be there when he makes his playoff debut.

“One thing that Bart has told me, and that the coaches have reinforced in me, is to play the same game I was playing in Providence,” said Krug. “Bart came up and played the same way he was playing in Providence. It’s important for me to stick to my roots.

“I never thought that I’d be in this position. But I’m looking forward to it, and want to do anything I can to help the team. The [AHL] experience was important for me because I got a taste of playoff hockey. I didn’t get to do much of that when I was in college.”

The biggest thing for the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Krug is to use his certain set of skills -- things like making the proper first pass and getting the puck out of the zone quickly. The last thing Krug, Bartkowski or Hamilton want is prolonged time in the D-zone where the bigger, stronger Rangers will be able to overwhelm them with grinding physicality.

“For me it’s all the same -- efficiently moving the puck up and down the ice and breaking it out with that first pass. It’s important because I’m a smaller guy and I don’t want to be playing in my defensive zone too often,” said Krug. “For me that’s important to jump in and get it out of the zone as much as I can.”

The young defensemen’s ability to break the puck out quickly will go a long way toward determining whether or not Boston will survive in a playoff series against the Rangers.