Bruins

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

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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.

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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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins will be featured prominently on NBC national schedule

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File Photo

Bruins will be featured prominently on NBC national schedule

The Boston Bruins are coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, so they won’t be any strangers to the national television audience in the upcoming NHL season.

The Bruins are set to be on NBC or NBCSN 14 times in nationally televised games during the 2018-19 season including the Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame, and their Oct. 3 season opener against the reigning Cup champion Washington Capitals in DC. The 14 games are tied with the New York Rangers for the fifth-most in the NHL behind only the Blackhawks, Capitals, Flyers and Penguins.

The B’s season opener vs. the Caps will actually kick off NBC’s NHL coverage for the regular season, which is set to include a whopping 109 televised games.

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Other highlights from the NBC Networks broadcast schedule include a home game against the Atlantic Division rival Montreal Canadiens on Monday, January 14, a road game against the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, February 20, and a home tilt on Thursday Feb. 28 against the Tampa Bay Lightning team that eliminated them in the playoffs.

Here’s the rest of the national television 2018-19 schedule for the Black and Gold that certainly has some games to circle on the ole hockey calendar:  

Bruins Games Broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network (all times Eastern):

Wednesday, October 3: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, October 17: Boston Bruins at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN

Tuesday, January 1: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks (Winter Classic), 1 p.m., NBC

Monday, January 14: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, January 16: Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, February 3: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals, 12:30 p.m., NBC

Wednesday, February 6: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Tuesday, February 12: Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m., NBCSN

Monday, February 18: Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 10 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, February 20: Boston Bruins at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m., NBCSN

Thursday, February 28: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, March 10: Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Wednesday, March 27: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Sunday, March 31: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Mikita's legacy extends beyond the ice

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Morning Skate: Mikita's legacy extends beyond the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the fog officially rolled in this morning.  

*NBC Sports announced their 109-game schedule for the NHL season, and it all starts with the Bruins season opener on Oct. 3 against the Washington Capitals. The Wednesday Night Rivalry games will be done away with and in its place Wednesday Night Hockey is going to feature a more diverse collection of teams and locations featuring non-traditional markets. It’s a great idea and completely called for given the emergence of teams like the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers on the lasting legacy of the recently passed Chicago Blackhawks great Stan Mikita when it comes to his work in the community.

*Dylan Larkin got a pretty good deal from the Detroit Red Wings that was deserved given his youth and his production to this point. So why on Earth are we writing 1,000 word think pieces on this? Yeah, I don’t know either.

*Speaking of the Red Wings, it sounds like Henrik Zetterberg may be a giant question mark for this upcoming NHL season based on his health. While it’s a big blog to the Red Wings competitiveness for next season, it might be the best thing for a team that’s still nowhere near competing for a Stanley Cup at this point.

*Three big questions facing the Edmonton Oilers as they ready for a massive season that will undoubtedly have jobs on the line based on an expected return to the playoffs.

*For something completely different: Well, this is one way to discourage cruise ships from going by your coastal home.