The ice time doesn’t lie about whether things are going well or going badly for hockey players.
A player logging 20-plus minutes a night in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a mortal lock to be a key factor in postseason success and is trusted to handle things responsibly away from the offensive zone.
In other words, Torey Krug is really considered more of an offensive defenseman by the Bruins and the NHL, but has worked diligently to change that notion with some of his vintage performances. Krug was also able to look at the Matt Fraser overtime game-winner in Game 4 in Montreal and naturally think back to his own playoff explosion last season.
There’s nothing like a rookie scoring a game-winner in the playoffs to bring some energy to the bench. Boston should be looking for more of the same in Game 5.
“It’s exciting to watch. When you see a guy like that in your locker room go through an experience like that, you’re just excited for him,” said Krug, on Fraser. “Hopefully he can reflect on that moment someday, but not for [Game 5].”
Krug averaged well short of 20 minutes of ice while playing a third-pairing role with Kevan Miller in the regular season, but the puck-moving defenseman has bounced around between pairings and D-partners a bit more lately. One thing that’s been constant: Krug’s offense, smarts and coolness under pressure.
He’s got two goals and eight points in nine playoff games this spring and the diminutive defenseman is undoubtedly playing with “a lot more poise” as one of the power play’s young leaders. The PP is 0-for-8 thus far through the four games in the Canadiens series, but that’s no fault of Krug. The entire power-play unit is struggling with simple things such as gaining the blue line.
“I like most of our young players this year, I think [Krug] has improved a lot. I can’t say enough about what experience does for you,” said Claude Julien. “He was good last year, but there were the odd mistakes here and there or under pressure, probably threw pucks away.
“But a lot more poise this year through the experience that [Tuukka Rask] has had and I think he has been really good in the playoffs. So far, he has been steady, pretty reliable and has made some good plays.”
That’s a smart stretch of hockey for Krug, who knows the importance of Game 5 Saturday night against the Canadiens at TD Garden - the series is tied at 2 - while continuing to create chances for plenty of teammates looking for instant offense.