BOSTON – Looking back on it now, Torey Krug admits he might not have been properly ready to begin the season coming off major shoulder surgery. The Bruins’ offensive defenseman spent so much of his time making sure the shoulder was ready, perhaps that subtracted from other areas like the ultra-important skating portion of his game.
Thankfully that’s been a focus for Krug once he got into the flow of the season and realized something was seriously wrong with his game and there’s been a reverse course, highlighted by scoring the game’s first goal Thursday night in a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
The season’s numbers still aren’t great for Krug, with a goal and three points along with a minus-6 rating in 14 games, but he said the trip to Detroit – with the Michigan-based Krug family in attendance to lend him support -- at the end of last month was a turning point for him.
The numbers back it up: after a scoreless October, Krug has a goal and three points in six games along with 25 shots on net and he’s begun resembling the player the Bruins need to be their most productive offensive D-man. That's a far cry from the struggling player with zero points and a minus-4 through eight games at the end of the October, who ripped his own game apart as "something I'm not proud of" after hitting rock bottom with a minus-3 performance in a home loss to the Canadiens.
Krug has obviously been better as of late and made a giant step in that return to his past prolific offensive ways on Thursday night by notching his first goal of the season. It was a trademark Krug score, with the pint-sized D-man turning loose a blistering high-point blast that bounced off Scott Hartnell’s backside on its way off the post and into the net.
A couple of weeks ago that’s probably the exact play where Krug was squarely hitting the post instead of lighting the lamp, but now things are starting to fall for him. And his goal against Columbus tied the score while sparking a four-goal barrage in four minutes of ice time that won the game early for the Bruins and ripped the heart out of a Blue Jackets team laboring through the second game of a back-to-back situation.
“I think Detroit was a turning point for me. Maybe it was going home and playing in front of friends and family. I always like playing against that team for whatever reason, but I could feel that things were getting better. I’m happy with the way my game is shaping up,” said Krug. “There are a couple of plays tonight that, you know, probably five games ago I don’t make. So it’s nice to get that swagger back in my game and hopefully I can use it to keep moving forward and keep bettering myself. But it’s starting to come together, it’s not all there, but that hunger, that drive to get better is what makes good hockey players.”
The resurgence of Krug is something that gives the B’s second defenseman pairing a lot more offensive bite and returns another dangerous special teams player who’s been a legitimate weapon from the point in seasons past. Now that the 25-year-old’s game is coming back, those dimensions will help the Bruins develop into a well-rounded offense like the one that got five goals from five different players vs. Columbus.
“I don’t know what factored into it, but you know, [Krug] is right [when he says that] he hasn’t been at the top of his game. I can see it getting better and better all the time,” said Claude Julien. “Tonight was a good example of that, he scores a nice goal and those kind of things are things that can encourage you and give you a reason to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as I often mention, about getting better. I think his game has improved lately, so hopefully it keeps getting better because he certainly has lots in him.”
There have been many encouraging signs from the Bruins the past week, including a couple of strong efforts on home ice and a really good game in Montreal that featured a dominant B’s effort, despite the eventual regulation loss. One of the more encouraging developments has been Krug regaining his form as one of the best defensemen on Boston’s roster and arguably the most dangerous when the puck is on his stick.