WILMINGTON – It will be a whole different experience for Torey Krug when Bruins training camp opens next week.
The 22-year-old defenseman signed with the Bruins at the end of the 2011-12 season when the team was in the throes of their Stanley Cup hangover, and then watched helplessly as the lockout wiped out his first shot at an NHL training camp. But Krug still managed to make an impact at the NHL level last season when he was called into duty in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the New York Rangers. Injuries along the blue line opened a spot for Krug, and he stepped into the Black and Gold breach with four goals and 6 points in 15 playoff games.
Krug really caught fire against the Rangers while scoring all four of his goals against them in that five game series, and never came out of the lineup following that scoring spree. It’s expected Krug won’t be taken out of the Bruins lineup much this upcoming season, and instead he’ll be penciled into a top six spot likely alongside right-handed shooting Adam McQuaid.
But he’ll need to show that same puck-moving spark that dazzled everybody during the playoffs while also showing the willingness to battle with bigger, stronger opponents in the defensive zone. The work Krug did battling with the 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle during the playoffs was something to admire and behold.
“Last spring I had the mindset that I needed to get bigger to play at this level, and to get bigger and stronger. This summer the focus was about explosiveness. My game is having that explosive skating and really being quick with that first three or four steps,” said Krug. “It’s always also about getting stronger, so I can continue to battle with those guys in front.
“Last year I didn’t know what to expect in my first pro camp. This summer it’s a bit more exciting. I’m more comfortable in the room – although I’ve said many times I’ve always felt comfortable in the room -- and my confidence is high. Now I’m just going to put my head down and go to work.”
Just don’t ask Krug to take anything for granted as he readies for his first full season at the NHL level, and hopes to make an impact as a point man on the floundering Bruins power play.
“[Making the NHL roster cut] is what I expect. That’s what I want to do and that’s my goal,” said Krug. “My goal is to be on the team opening night and through the season. Management makes that decision, so I just my head down and let them do what they do.
“I’m okay with [high expectations]. I have high expectations for myself.”
The Bruins also have high expectations for Krug as he joins Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski as the young trio of defensemen vying for jobs after such a strong showing in the playoffs. Now comes the hard part for any young player like Krug: maintaining consistency and top performance over the grind of an 82-game regular season that will fatigue the heartiest of souls.