Krug's tough start dooms Bruins in Nashville

Krug's tough start dooms Bruins in Nashville

NASHVILLE – There were mistakes early and mistakes late in the Bruins' frenetic 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday night, but it was the early gaffes that spotted the Preds a four-goal lead that ultimately crushed the Black and Gold. 


Torey Krug has been better as of late after finishing November as a point-per-game player with an even plus/minus rating, but his first-period difficulties vs. Nashville were impossible to ignore.

Krug couldn’t do enough to neutralize Craig Smith crashing for a juicy Anton Khudobin rebound in the opening minutes. Krug then left his position to assist triple-teaming puck carrier Kevin Fiala before a wide-open Smith scored again for Nashville’s second score. It could have been even worse after a Krug turnover deep in the D-zone turned into a breakaway chance for Kyle Turris, but Khudobin was able to make the stop on that one in the first period.

Krug was a minus-2 after the opening period while alternating between trying to do too much or not enough in the D-zone and the Bruins were deep in a hole - a position that hasn’t portended good things for them this season.

“That’s what good teams do. [The Predators] capitalized on our mistakes. They made mistakes too, but we didn’t capitalize on enough of them,” said Krug, who is a team-worst minus-9 this season. That largely stems from the first month of the season while he played through a fractured jaw. “We take a lot of pride in battling back in situations like that. It’s about that and making sure that we have the starts that we usually, consistently have. We’d found a way to fix that part of our game, and maybe we need to go back and take a look at it before it slips away again.”

To his credit, Krug and the Bruins tightened things up and authored a furious third-period comeback before Boston’s top D-men pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy buckled for Fillip Forsberg's insurance goal. True to his nature, Krug kept fighting and finished the night as a minus-1 with seven shot attempts in 20:53 of ice time that didn’t read all that badly on the score sheet.

The bottom line, though, is that Nashville revealed some weaknesses to be exploited on Boston’s defense. That means Krug, McAvoy, Chara and the rest of the B’s back end needs to tighten things up before it becomes a trend. 



Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.