Krug starting to make an NHL name with big offense

Krug starting to make an NHL name with big offense
November 8, 2013, 11:15 am
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(AP Images)

There is very clearly something special going on with rookie defenseman Torey Krug as he continues to pile up the goals, and create offensive plays that lead to scoring chances with his booming shot and skating dexterity along the blueline.

Krug bombed home a top shelf blast from the slot off a nice feed from Chris Kelly in the third period as an insurance marker for the Bruins in their 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden, and notched his sixth goal of the season.

That’s good enough for second on a Bruins team that normally has a list of five or six forwards at the top of the goals list before you get to the first defenseman. More impressively it’s tied for tops among all NHL defensemen with former Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, considered the gold standard for offensive defenseman currently drawing paychecks in the league.

Is it a little surreal for Krug to see his name up there with a player like Karlsson, and to have his name considered one of the favorites among Calder Trophy candidates as the NHL rookie of the year?

“Check back with me around Christmastime, and we’ll see where I’m at,” said a smiling Krug, who is clearly not taking anything for granted. “You just try to continue to be on top of things, and don’t be comfortable. That’s when things can start to creep up on you.”

It’s no fluke, though.

Krug has scored double-digit goals in every season since his freshman campaign at Michigan State, and notched 13 goals for the Providence Bruins last season before adding another four strikes in 15 playoff games for Boston. He’ll have competition with players like Tomas Hertl, Sean Monahan, Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon for Calder Trophy honors, but he’s certainly in the conversation given the way that he’s played thus far.

“It helps because that’s what we talked about for years now – that we needed some guys who could carry the mail as we say and jump into the plays,” said Claude Julien, of the rookie defenseman. “He did a good job again tonight.

“He seems to find the right times to jump in, and get some opportunities. But there were other guys; I thought Z [Zdeno Chara] a couple of times just drove right through and almost scored. In the second period our D’s were a little bit more active tonight, which also helps.”

The 22-year-old is on a pace for 33 goals scored this season, and it’s pretty clear that kind of goal-scoring from a defenseman will taper off to some degree. But Krug will get his share of points with the booming shot from the point on Boston’s top power play unit, and his confident nature is going to keep him taking chances when there’s an opportunity to create some offense.

It’s just the way he’s built.

“It’s one of those things where you have to make sure you capitalize on your opportunities because you don’t get them a lot at this level,” said Krug. “I’ve been really just trying to focus, and not let those chances slip away when I do get them. You need to be lucky too.

“If you’re scoring goals, you’re helping the team, right? As long as I’m also holding up my end of the bargain defensively and I can contribute offensively, then I’m happy. As long as I can take care of all of that, I’ll be happy. One of the things I’ve always found going back to college is that the more focused I am defensively, the more chances I seem to get at the offensive end. For whatever reason, that’s how it works for me.”

That will be music to Julien’s ears, as are the substantial offensive contributions that the Black and Gold are reaping from the dynamic rookie D-man. It’s pretty clear now that Krug isn’t a fluke when it comes to scoring goals and creating offensive from the back end, and now it’s a question of just how good the youngster can be after an extremely promising first full month in the NHL.