Haggerty: Time for Krug bashers to lay off a player having a good season


Haggerty: Time for Krug bashers to lay off a player having a good season

BRIGHTON, Mass – It might just be high time for people to cut B’s defenseman Torey Krug a little bit of a break. 

The 26-year-old defenseman got off to a slow start this season offensively coming back from a fractured jaw, and lost his longtime defensive partner to injury when Adam McQuaid broke his leg in the middle of October. 

Still, Krug has managed to post four goals and 14 points in 19 games while averaging 20:46 of ice time this season, and is on pace for career-highs of 16 goals and 57 points despite some very real power play struggles in the month of November. Offensively Krug has pushed the puck, adjusted to second-year D-man Brandon Carlo on his right side most nights and leads all Bruins defensemen with 42 shots on net in his 19 games.


Despite all of that, there's a vocal minority of Bruins fans that seem to always view Krug as a defensive mistake waiting to happen, or a weak D-zone link that can always be exploited. He’s battled through another minor injury since returning from the fractured jaw as well, but Krug rightfully feels like he’s on the proper track after starting slowly out of the gate for the second year in a row. 

“Pittsburgh was good and more importantly we got the win. The Edmonton game was not bad. I feel good,” said Krug, who sizzled home the game-winner on a one-timer in Wednesday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Obviously there are things I can always improve on, but I think the coaches are happy with my play. I just want to continue taking steps forward and being a bigger part of the team.”

Clearly there are always going to be challenges defensively for a player that’s listed at 5-foot-9, 186-pounds, and the team-worst minus-9 rating for Krug gives his critics plenty of ammunition after he finished as a minus player last season. But there’s also this about Krug: The plus-minus numbers are misleading given that he’s been on ice for a whopping seven empty net goals scored against the Bruins this season. 

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed that out while giving the rundown on where he thinks Krug’s game is at a quarter-way through the regular season. 

“I think he’s been better. Offensively I think his game is rounding into form. We’re always going to push Torey to be that 200-foot player. We’re never going to ask him to clear out the front of the net like [Kevan] Miller or [Brandon] Carlo, but we’re going to ask him to be conscientious with that part of his game without losing the offensive part,” said Cassidy. “Those offensive defensemen are always looking to transition, and that’s always a part of their game. But let’s also clean up what’s in front of us first.

“I think he’s done a good job of that. I think he’s got a high plus/minus number right now, but don’t forget that I think he’s been on the ice for seven empty net goals. I think it’s a little bit inaccurate to judge him on that particular number.”

Clearly there have been some tough games for Krug this season, and pretty much all of them occurred when he was still suffering and eating a soft food diet with a busted jaw. He was a minus-3 in losses to both the Coyotes and the Sabres in October, and there were too many instances where the D-man got trapped in the defensive zone, or got way too loose with the puck breaking it up the ice. Krug improved that to an even plus/minus in the month of November, and was a point-per-game player with two goals and 11 points in 10 games while doing nearly all of his damage during 5-on-5 play. 

From the fancy stats perspective, only Charlie McAvoy (54.24) has a higher Corsi/SAT% than Krug among Bruins defensemen with his 53.18 number through two months. 

The bottom line is this with Krug: He’s coming off a very strong month of hockey, he’s on pace for career best offensive numbers and he’s been doing it with the Bruins lineup consistently missing some of their best finishing players over the last two months. In other words, Krug is enjoying a pretty damned good year and it might be time for more people to start appreciating it while getting past the antiquated plus/minus numbers.


McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg


McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg

BRIGHTON, Mass – It marks just another step on Adam McQuaid’s eventual return to game action, but it was a big one getting back on the ice with his Bruins teammates on Monday for his first practice since breaking his right fibula on Oct. 19. 

The 31-year-old McQuaid has missed 21 games and counting since blocking a pair of shots in a win over Vancouver that ultimately snapped his right leg. It’s been a long road of rehab and working his way back after a fairly significant surgery, but the light is present at the end of the tunnel now for the rugged, stay-at-home defenseman.

However, it looks like there will be a healthy amount of practice time involved before McQuaid has sufficiently knocked the rust off for game action after missing the last seven weeks. 

“He’s still got a ways to go, so I don’t want to even speculate [on a return date],” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll start to sort the pieces together when he’s truly ready to play, but it’s nice to have him around. He’s a great guy and his teammates all love him.”


Clearly McQuaid has suffered his share of injuries over the years while playing a fearless style of blocking shots, throwing hits and defending his teammates at all costs. Just don’t expect him to change the way he plays after suffering a major injury in that particular line of duty because McQuaid knows exactly what his job description is on the ice. 

“Obviously today was a good step. It was good to be out there with the guys, and hopefully things continue to progress,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 rating in six games this season. “It’s tough. Without sugarcoating it, it was [a tough injury]. But you can’t change the situation. You try to persevere through and be better for it, so hopefully that will be the case with this. I felt good coming into the season, so it was disappointing in that way. But I’m looking to work back to that level now.

“I’ve said to some people that I can choose between getting hurt once in a while and missing some time, or playing a different style and probably not playing at all. I don’t foresee anything changing with me in that way. When you get out there, you just play and get into that mindset where you can’t think about injuries. 

It’s going to be a challenge for Bruins head coach Cassidy to work McQuaid back into the lineup when he is ready to play given the six-man defense corps that’s functioning well these days with rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk in the lineup. Still McQuaid is bullishly strong, a Stanley Cup champ and as good of a teammate as you’ll find when it comes to defending everybody else in a Bruins uniform, so it won’t be too long before he finds his way back into the lineup.  

Cassidy appreciates all of those things in McQuaid’s game since their early days together with the Providence Bruins, and bristles at the notion of his injuries being looked at as a liability in any way. McQuaid has missed an average of 18 games per season over his seven full seasons with the Bruins, but Cassidy sees it as more of a hazard of the particular role he fills on the back end. Not everybody can do what McQuaid does, but it’s absolutely needed on any hockey club that’s going to be successful in the regular season and playoffs. 

“He plays hard every night and he’s a guy that blocks more shots than anybody,” said Cassidy. “Yes, he missed the last seven weeks because he blocked two shots in the same sequence. He puts himself in harm’s way and he’s suffered some injuries because of it. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to get into labels…I love the guy. 

“The game needs players like him, and the team needs him if you want to be hard to play against. Guys like that are necessary…I’ve heard that [injury-prone] description and I think it’s unfair because [McQuaid] lays it on the line every night.” 

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with both Ryan Spooner (lower body) and Noel Acciari (upper body) practicing and uncertain if they can play Wednesday night in Detroit: 
















Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks


Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while avoiding all “The Last Jedi” spoilers out there. 


*Brock Boeser continues to score and play well for the Vancouver Canucks despite the extra attention as one of the NHL’s lead rookie players this season. I hate to say it, but this is another one of those players from the second half of the first round in the 2015 NHL Draft. I’ll leave it at that and move on. 


*Alex Burrows fined $5000 for an incident in San Jose, but at least he didn’t bite anybody this time around, right? 


*It must be a slow week if there’s a big think piece about the ritual of using smelling salts right before the drop of the puck in NHL games. 


*There is more speculation about the Ottawa Senators trading Erik Karlsson than ever before in his NHL career, but his thoughts haven’t changed about wanting to win in Ottawa. 


*Good for the Bruins going out and donating some Christmas trees this weekend to the families of service members and veterans in Leominster. 


*It’s been a whopping 44 games since Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has scored a goal, and that’s an almost unthinkable drought considering how much he handles the puck. 


*For something completely different: Wonder Woman is getting snubbed by the Golden Globes, and it’s difficult to understand why.