BOSTON -- The lasting image from Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final forever will be the sight of Torey Krug, without a helmet, steamrolling St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas with a jarring hit.
The play began at the other end of the ice, just in front of Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Krug and Blues forward David Perron were tangled up in a wrestling match of sorts while the two referees looked on and kept their whistles quiet. Once Krug was able to get up, after already having lost his helmet, he skated right toward Perron. Instead of taking an interference penalty by seeking revenge on Perron, the B's defenseman found a new target: Thomas.
Krug skated right into the Blues' zone and lowered the boom on Thomas, sending the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy and giving his teammates an emotional lift in the third period.
“That gave me some goosebumps," Bruins forward David Backes said of Krug's huge hit. "He’s battling in our zone with Perron, and I don’t know what kind of twister game they were playing in front of our net, but no bucket and I was hoping he would change, he doesn’t have his helmet on, but he goes right up the ice and lays a big hit. But I don’t know, he thinks he’s playing 30, 40 years ago, but that was an exchange that I think was Torey Krug establishing himself in this series. And that was, from my perspective, a big boost.”
It certainly did give the Bruins a lift in energy. Boston was clinging to a 3-2 third-period lead at the time of the hit, and the Bruins finished the period strong to earn a 4-2 victory in Game 1.
“It’s part of the game. Momentum swings,” Krug said. “It gives your team a boost of energy. If it pushes them back, I don’t know what they were feeling on their bench, but if it pushes them back and catches them off guard, then great for our team. But I think it gave our team energy, and that’s all you’re trying to do out there is make little plays that push your team in the right direction. That was one of them.”
Perron and the Blues were trying to get under Krug's skin the whole game, and the B's defenseman knows what that's like because he's been facing it his whole career. And it's not going to stop after Monday night.
"Every game in the NHL, since I've been in the league," Krug said. "I'm a 5-foot-9 defenseman. I'd probably be doing the same thing if I was on the opposing team. I'd probably try to run me right through the boards. It's no secret that a strength of mine is bringing up pucks and their strength is being on the forecheck, so they're going to be coming. I know that. They've been coming all playoffs."
If Krug keeps responding to this aggressive play from St. Louis like he did in Game 1, he'll be just fine against this physical Blues team.
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