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GAME 1 REPORT
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CHICAGO -- Before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, 22-year-old Torey Krug was as excited as one could be while riding out what’s been an unbelievable magic carpet ride of a rookie experience. He also didn’t anticipate being very nervous prior to jumping on the ice for the biggest hockey game of his life.
“I don’t really sit in the locker room and get sick to my stomach, and the heart rate isn’t usually beating too fast,” said Krug prior to Game 1. “Maybe the first couple of shifts I’m a little jittery here or there, but I don’t sit there before the game and really get worked up about it. I try not to let things affect me.”
The rookie B’s defenseman will need to put that Teflon philosophy into use following a gaffe in the third period of Game 1 that hurt Boston’s efforts to protect a third-period lead, and eventually helped lead to a 4-3 loss in triple overtime.
Krug broke the puck out as the Bruins were changing lines, throwing it up the middle of the ice rather than along the boards, probably to attempt to avoid a “too many men on the ice” penalty.
Instead of clearing the zone, the puck was intercepted by Blackhawks agitator Andrew Shaw, who managed to stay onsides and then wheeled into the zone with speed before feeding Dave Bolland for a wide open score to make it 3-2. A Johnny Oduya shot off Andrew Ference’s skate tied it up, and the Blackhawks were back from the dead.
Most of the Bruins expressed frustration in a general sense about not being able to shut the door in the third period with a two-goal lead, but Tuukka Rask expressed it in a much more pointed way.
“We had the game, and we were up 3-1 in the third,” said Rask. “Then a terrible turnover on the second goal, and a tough bounce leads to the tying goal. Then we just gave it away. We’ve got to be better than that.”
Krug was stapled to the bench for the rest of the third period after the mistake, and didn’t emerge again until midway through the first overtime. He finished a minus-2 in 19:36 of ice time and was also on the ice for the game-winner when both Shaw and Bolland got to the front of the net to redirect Michael Rozsival’s shot.
Some early the rookie jitters in the first few shifts of the game and then the mother of all turnovers at the wrong time in the third period for Krug could mean that the Bruins coaching staff mulls a potential lineup change going into Game 2. Matt Bartkowski remains a viable candidate that’s a little stronger in his own end while featuring the same kind of skating wheels as Krug, and Wade Redden is also an option if the Bruins want a steadying veteran hand.
Perhaps the Bruins stick with Krug because of the important role he’s carved out for himself offensively and on the power play, but the rookie showed that maybe his heartbeat did skip a little bit more quickly in the most important hockey game of his life on Wednesday night.