Bruins

Red-hot Krug looking for another successful trip home vs. Wings

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Red-hot Krug looking for another successful trip home vs. Wings

DETROIT – You could tell there was something a little different about the game being in Detroit when Torey Krug flipped a puck high into the stands during warm-ups near where his family and friends were taking in Boston’s morning skate at the brand, spanking new Little Caesar’s Arena. The Bruins defenseman grew up in nearby Livonia, Michigan and Krug comes from a massive hockey family that made regular pilgrimages to Joe Louis Arena to watch the Red Wings play.

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So it’s a special occasion anytime Krug returns back to Hockeytown for a game, and there’s still a novelty with the brand new barn that the Wings are playing in this season as well.

“They’re a team that I get really excited to play against, especially coming back to Detroit where you see a lot of familiar faces in the stands,” said Krug, who also played for Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill at the USHL level with the Indiana Ice. “My family gets to come and watch, and I get excited because they can root for us to beat them. I’m really lucky to have a lot of support. 

“We’re a hockey family and understand the game, so everybody knows when I play good or bad. It pushes me in the right direction to make sure I’m bringing my best every night, and especially against this team it gives me an extra boost.”  

Lately it’s been very good for the 26-year-old Krug, who had to take on greater responsibility when Charlie McAvoy went out of the lineup while recovering from his heart procedure. Krug has two goals and nine points in his last eight games for the Black and Gold, has topped 20 minutes of ice time in three of those games and more importantly is a plus-1 over that span as well. 

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In fact, Krug has battled back from a big minus number earlier in the season to now sitting at a dead even plus/minus, and that speaks to how much better he’s been as things have moved along this season. It’s a pattern that his head coach has noticed in the time he’s worked with him both at the AHL level and the NHL level as well, and it’s proving to be true again this season as Krug has moved further away from a broken jaw suffered in preseason. 

“He’s been good lately,” said Bruce Cassidy, who referenced something Krug first told him all the way back in Providence five years ago. “He’s always told us that he’s a second-half player, and he’s been true to his word…so good for him.”

Krug hopes it’s again good for him (three goals and 11 points along with a plus-10 in 19 career games against the Wings) and good for the Bruins on another visit back home for a friends-and-family crowd while taking on the Red Wings in Motown.

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Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

When the Bruins take the ice against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night deep in the outer reaches of Western Canada, there will be a couple of things at play. One will be the start of a long sprint to the end of the regular season with 27 games in a scant 52 days with no more long breaks to catch their collective breath.

The worst of the worst will be 16 games in March, which could be the thing that ultimately knocks the Black and Gold down a peg after they’ve managed to play through everything else this season.

Trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning by just a couple of points for the NHL’s top spot, the Bruins know the schedule itself will be one of their biggest challenges of the season.

“We’re certainly aware of our schedule the rest of the way, and we know that it’s going to be a challenge. There aren’t too many more days off and we’re pretty much playing every other day,” said Patrice Bergeron. “So some of it will be about getting the proper rest and making sure we’re doing everything to be ready to play. But this has also been a group that’s done a really good job of handling other things that have been thrown at us whether it’s injuries or something else. This is just another challenge to take on.”

But the other, smaller picture is of the five-game trip through Canada with a final stop in Buffalo next Sunday. The Bruins will play those five games in ten days in their longest trip of the regular season. They hope to conjure up some of the same mojo that kicked off their three-month winning binge way back in mid-November. It was then that the Bruins righted the ship on a trip through California and won games in Los Angeles and San Jose that kicked off a four-game winning streak that helped change the season.

The Bruins are much more comfortable now with a giant cushion for a playoff spot and a legitimate chance to overtake the Lightning, but Bruce Cassidy is hoping to see the same kind of hunger in this particular long stretch away from home.

“This is much more about what we are and what we look like, but having said that the [California trip] was the beginning of us [turning things around]. It had us gutting out some wins in typically tough places to play like L.A. and San Jose. [Anton] Khudobin was in net and we were relying on some call-up guys, but that was really when our D-corps really stiffened up,” said Cassidy. “It kind of got us back to our heads above water, and from there we kind of took off. But now this is a different group in a different position, and we’re pushing to be in a different position.

“I think you can say Tuukka [Rask] won us all these games or [Brad] Marchand or [Patrice] Bergeron. Our best players have been our best players, but our support players have been very good, especially on those nights when we’ve needed to lean on them a little more when they’ve able to shut down [the Bergeron Line]. I think our support players deserve a lot of credit for that.”

The Bruins clearly hope this mammoth trip can be another seasonal turning point that pushes them in a direction toward a strong, decisive finish to the marathon of a regular season.

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Report: Jake DeBrusk must be included in any deal for Ryan McDonagh

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Report: Jake DeBrusk must be included in any deal for Ryan McDonagh

While Bruins fans might have high hopes that their team is going to be able to land a veteran, proven No. 1 defenseman like Ryan McDonagh in exchange for a song, a bag pucks and a third round pick, that isn’t going to happen. 

The New York Rangers would want Bruins rookie left winger Jake DeBrusk included in any potential deal for McDonagh, according to Edmonton hockey insider Jim Matheson. The report flies in the face of speculation they might be willing to accept unproven prospects like Trent Frederic or Jack Studnicka. The expectation is that the Rangers would be looking for proven, young NHL assets if they were to part ways with a 28-year-old McDonagh, who is signed through next season. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility they’d be looking for DeBrusk, Brandon Carlo and a draft pick for a frontline D-man signed through next season. 

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The 21-year-old DeBrusk has 11 goals and 29 points in 51 games for the Bruins, and has done a really nice job as the hard-working, skilled left winger alongside David Krejci for the balance of his rookie season in the NHL. DeBrusk hasn’t exactly been brilliant in his first season, but he’s shown the kind of skills and leadership qualities to be a very good and productive player for the Bruins for a good, long time. 

Clearly McDonagh would be a good fit for the Bruins as a player that would fortify their top-4 on the back end and potentially form a great pairing with 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy. The veteran Blueshirts defenseman would also give the Bruins a high-caliber veteran ready to take over the head of Boston’s D-corps when 40-year-old Zdeno Chara eventually calls it a career. 

But the sense around McDonagh and the Rangers is that Jeff Gorton wouldn’t pull the trigger with him unless he gets an offer he can’t refuse from Boston, Tampa, or any other interested suitors. The Rangers are under no real pressure to move McDonagh right now, and could certainly get a similar, if slightly lesser, haul in June if they opted to trade the defenseman around NHL Draft weekend.

The bottom line for the Bruins remains the same: Don Sweeney should tread carefully when it comes to significantly altering the DNA of a Bruins hockey club that’s threatening for the President’s Trophy this season, and has been the best team in the NHL over the last three months. Removing multiple players like DeBrusk or Carlo from their current group could be the kind of alterations that change the Bruins chemistry for the worse, and that would be a shame after what the Bruins have built up over the course of this season. 

The bottom line is this: Sweeney and the Bruins are in a great spot right now with a high-performing team and a wealth of good prospects, but this is when the decisions start getting really difficult with the wrong moves coming with significant consequences. 

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