Bruins

Time for Krug to step up after a rough start

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Time for Krug to step up after a rough start

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s not much of a coincidence that Torey Krug and the Bruins are off to bumpy starts.

With so many injured players and inexperienced rookies in tow for the Black and Gold, the onus - whether fair or unfair - falls to core players such as Krug to pull more than their share of the load. 

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Unfortunately, Krug hasn’t been up to the challenge the first six games of the season, while coming quickly from a fractured jaw suffered in the preseason, and he sits with a team-worst minus-8 for the season after a brutal minus-3 performance in the Saturday night collapse against the Buffalo Sabres.

Krug’s timing still doesn’t appear to be fully there yet after missing most of training camp. That's causing him to play more in the defensive zone where the 5-foot-9, 186-pounder just doesn’t want to be.

The Bruins absolutely need him to be better if they’re going to survive the early portion of the season with their playoff hopes still intact, so it’s up to Krug to find his game a little sooner than he did last season. 
 
Krug, 26, returned a few games ahead of the initial injury timetable, which he’s always done to his tough-minded credit. Still, it feels like this season is playing out much the same as last when Krug was coming back from shoulder surgery and started very slowly before getting his bearings physically with just six points and a minus-9 rating in his first 20 games of last season.

Krug is hoping that a few more days of practice this week can help him hit the reset button ahead of this weekend’s games against the Sharks and Kings and get him into midseason form.

“Maybe [a few days to reset is a good thing], but there’s also a side of me that says ‘screw it’ and wants to get right back out there,” said Krug, who has just a couple of points and only eight shots on goal in his first six games. “The more I get out there and play the more I’ll find my game, and start playing the percentages that make me a good hockey player. The more I touch the ice the better I feel, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing in the next game.

“I know it’s going to click. Last year was a physical thing with the shoulder, and I guess it’s the same situation this year where I think I only practiced four times and then missed all of camp [with the fractured jaw]. So, I’m in the same situation as last year, and it took me about 20 games to feel right last season. I’m trying to right the ship a little sooner this time around. The next game is when it’s going to start, and then we’ll move from there.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy wondered whether the protective plastic mouth-guard that Krug is wearing on his helmet after the broken jaw was hindering his play a little bit. It’s clear he’s still in recovery mode while still unable to eat things like a nice steak dinner because of the healing jaw. Krug may or may not be able to ditch the plastic jaw-guard after his next doctor’s appointment next week, but there are also some things he can do to aid his efforts in bouncing back.

“He had a significant injury, so I don’t know if some of the puck battles and 1-on-1 battles in tight that it affects him or not. Only he can answer that, but I suspect it would [impact] a lot of people. On the offensive end some of the plays that he’s made haven’t ended up in goals, and other ones haven’t presented themselves as much. That might be a byproduct of who he’s out there with,” said Cassidy. “But I know he’s going to make his plays and get his points. It’s just inevitable. He does that every year. On the defensive part of it there have been a few plays where rather than tying his guy up, he’s trying to play goalie a little bit. 

He’ll just have to be cognizant of that. Do your job and tie up your guy, and don’t try to do too much. That’s usually when you get yourself in trouble, and that’s happened a little bit. So once we all buy into that in front of the net, we’ll all be better off.”

But Cassidy and Krug know that he’s a key player in the aggressive transition system that the Bruins want to play and that the diminutive D-man is important as an in-his-prime bridge player between older warhorse Zdeno Chara and young, inexperienced D-men Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy.

At his best, Krug was a de facto No. 2 defenseman for the Bruins last season and certainly was a legitimate top-four guy playing well more 20 minutes a night. The Bruins need every inch of that right now with a team that’s certainly facing its share of adversity.

Krug knows his team badly needs him to step it up after an understandably slow start, so now's the time to start stepping.  
    


 

Morning Skate: Get ready for a next generation of 'Mighty Ducks'

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Morning Skate: Get ready for a next generation of 'Mighty Ducks'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while Tanguay is busy taking America...again!

*I kind of missed the "Mighty Ducks" phenomenon as I was a little too old to be the target audience when the movies first came out, but hopefully my kids will get to experience it fully with a new Mighty Ducks TV show in development. Gordon Bombay might be one of the greatest names for a movie character in cinema history, let alone hockey movie history.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/mighty-ducks-tv-series-works-1077067

*Speaking of hockey and television, it looks like PK Subban is going to get the big-shot experience on the Daily Show in the near future.

*A couple of major hockey figures say that the NHL has been completely silent on their pitches for funding to further study concussions.

*There’s a lot of concern over whether or not the Vancouver Canucks will play it smart at the trade deadline, but I’m more concerned about the health and well-being of this “sentagraph” that’s badly in need a breath: “It was only a little more than a week ago that the team’s effort to put everything together after kinda-sorta blowing it up a year or two back (at least as far as ownership would allow) was dubbed a “model rebuild” but that was not the world’s greatest take and I think everyone disagreed with it immediately.”

*The Chicago Blackhawks lost again and continue to spiral further out of a playoff spot with a team that sure seems like they should be better than they are.

*For something completely different: The Oscar nomination for the adapted “Logan” screenplay should be a game-changer for comic book movies.

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Bruins on Patriots success: 'We would love to be that'

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Bruins on Patriots success: 'We would love to be that'

BRIGHTON, Mass. - The Bruins are clearly in a much different place now with a young, up-and-coming group, but they certainly have hopes and aspirations to build something similar to what the Patriots have in place in Foxboro.

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The Pats are headed to Minnesota looking for their third Super Bowl title in four years to go along with the three Super Bowls in four years at the start of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Era. Plenty of Bruins players were on hand in Foxboro on Sunday with the day off from practice. Torey Krug even posted a picture on Instagram with Charlie McAvoy, Riley Nash, Paul Postma, Matt Grzelcyk, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask all ready to cheer on the Patriots in a truly entertaining AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

#letsgo

A post shared by Torey Krug (@krugtorey) on

Clearly, the Bruins semi-recently had a nice run of their own with seven consecutive seasons of playoff appearances and two Cup Final appearances between 2011-2013, but the Patriots’ current dynastic run is something that’s never been seen before in modern professional sports.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy makes no bones about being a fan of the Patriots and the way they play and said it’s something that inspires him and should inspire his team full of players as they roll through a very good season of their own.

“You can’t help but get caught up in it,” said Cassidy. “I’ve been in New England ten years, and you can see how teams continually can’t put the Patriots away. It’s not just one time. So they’re in people’s heads...I don’t care what anybody says.

“There are conversations, probably less about their own game and more about what the Patriots can do. On a game day, they’re probably focusing less on themselves. It’s an amazing quality that team has, the character, the culture they’ve created and the identity. We would love to be that. We’re coming at you, we’re coming at you, and it doesn’t matter what happens right to the bitter end. We’ll see where that goes, but you’ve got to be champions to do that. There are guys in this locker room that were [champions] and would love to be again, and with the younger guys hopefully, it’s something that they embrace.”

For those Bruins that have won before, the ongoing excellence of the Patriots, who've been dominant for close to two decades, becomes the truly amazing accomplishment. Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Adam McQuaid have been through one cycle of dominance earlier in their B’s careers, but before getting on that upward trajectory again, they needed to hit a rough patch for a couple of seasons that included a housecleaning of their GM and coach.

That’s something the Patriots have never really had to do since the arrival of Belichick and Brady, and it’s something that blows away those veteran Bruins who have watched it all unfold. 

“It’s not easy. You see it in every sport that the one season you win, and then the next season you don’t even make the playoffs,” said David Krejci. “The Patriots year after year they’re always a top-four team and last season they won the Super Bowl. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks and watching the game, especially given the way they played with the injuries they had with [Julian] Edelman and Gronk getting hurt. It was fun to watch [on Sunday].”  

If nothing else it’s inspiring for the younger Bruins to simply see how focused the entire community gets supporting one of the local teams when they reach the championship level and just how bonkers the Boston area will become if the Patriots take it to the Super Bowl house for a record-tying sixth time in NFL history. 

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