Bruins

Bruins curious to see what Krug brings in NHL debut

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Bruins curious to see what Krug brings in NHL debut

Torey Krugs college hockey coach at Michigan State let the cat out of the big a little bit early on Thursday morning when he hinted via twitter that his star defenseman would be making his NHL debut Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But that spoiler hasnt curbed any of the enthusiasm for Krugs first game with the Bruins Tuesday night against Sidney Crosby and the Pens an event made possible when the Bs clinched everything Sunday nights rousing victory over the Rangers.

Krug led the Bruins in their circle of stretching following Tuesday mornings skate at TD Garden, and Claude Julien confirmed after practice that the 5-foot-9, 180-pound blueliner will be making his NHL bones. The enthusiasm of a hockey player taking part in their first NHL experience brings a vibrant kind of energy to the table and Krug, as well as his teammates, are looking forward to witnessing it all through the eyes of the 21-year-old.

I feel like Im ready. Im very excited. I was one year old when I held my first hockey stick and I could skate from the time I could walk, said Krug. So this has been my dream since I was a child.

Julien dropped the NHL household name Kris Letang when asked what has impressed him about Krugs game in practice, and it was in the sense of the blueliners strength within a small package. Like Letang Krug has all of the attributes of a puck-moving defenseman passing ability, vision and skating but hes also built in the fire hydrant mode of stout, low center of gravity defensemen that seem to have sprouted all over the NHL.

Its pretty clear the Bruins have been in the market to find one of them, and thought they might have had one before pulling the plug and dealing away Steve Kampfer at the trade deadline.

Everybody keeps talking about his size, but what I see is a guy who moves extremely well, passes the puck extremely well and seems to have really good vision, said Julien. There are a lot of guys that play that position even Kris Letang that arent overly big players.

When they say hes 5-foot-9, hes a pretty strong individual. Hes pretty solid and to me he has a lot of qualities weve been looking for. So its an opportunity for him to play and enjoy it and for us to see what hes all about. It will be a great experience for him. It will be good for us to evaluate him to see how far he is in his progression to being an NHL player.

Krug is a puck-moving defenseman and power play quarterback first and foremost, though, and the Bruins are clearly anxious to see what he can do in an NHL setting. With the Bruins expected to hold back playerslike Tim Thomas -- and perhaps others like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron on their Thursday trip to Ottawa Krug may even get a couple of games in a row to get an NHL feel going.

Boston has seeming been in need of a puck-moving defenseman over the last five years, but both Kampfer and Matt Hunwick didnt end up fully developing to their needs. They were hoping to acquire one when they traded for Joe Corvo, but that hasnt worked out to the organizations satisfaction.

So developing the mythic puck-moving defenseman within their own system becomes the ultimate goal, and Krug is the poster boy for the next chapter.

The youngster might be their best hope in developing a home-grown puck-moving defenseman, and the only accurate way to gauge his potential NHL readiness is dropping him into a game setting. Its not so much sink or swim after the former Hobey Baker finalist practiced with the team over the last week, but the NHL is a far cry from the NCAA hockey world that Krug just graduated from.

He assures that hes up for the challenge and excited for the opportunity, and theres an organizational opening there if Krug can show that he might just be the clubs own Letang or Bryan Rafalski.

But being excited for a challenge, and excelling at said challenge are two very different things. First impressions never come around twice, so Krug has a very good chance to leave the team wanting for more after these late season dress rehearsals.

Its something special. Its something as a child that you dream about. You work your whole life for it and you make so many sacrifices for it. Its good that its finally come true, said Krug. Its a tough time to come into a locker room, but the guys in here have been so receptive. My greatest teachers have been my teammates.

Its time to see what the teachers have been bestowed upon Krug for lessons, and just how good a student he might become in Black and Gold.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

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Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

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Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anton Khudobin enjoyed getting pestered with shots early. He didn't have time to let his mind wander.

Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

"I like it busy," Khudobin said. "I don't have to think about anything else. The third-period start was unbelievable . . . I don't think I faced a shot until halfway through the period."

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

"It went our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They were clearly better than us but we come out 2-1 (in the three games on West Coast). If you stick with it, good things happen."

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

"Guys in this room can score; we just have to do it," Sharks Logan Couture said. "I thought we had good chances and a lot of them at the end. We've got to create offense. If you don't score goals, you're not going to win."

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

"I just kind of fished it out and wanted to bring it to the net," O'Regan said. "Timo made a nice finish."

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk, one of three rookies who scored, chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

"It's massive," DeBrusk said. "We all want it so bad and we all work so hard. These are big games for us."

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

"He made a heck of a play," Heinen said. "I just put my stick on the ice."

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

"We got enough looks tonight to score," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're doing more good than bad we're just not being rewarded."

NOTES: O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

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