Torey Krug missed two weeks and a half dozen games with a concussion, long enough for a little bit of rust to set in with his timing.
But you’d never guess it by watching him run the Bruins’ power-play in the B’s 6-3 victory over the Rangers on Wednesday night at the Garden. And the B’s needed the power play to be working to overcome a pesky if mistake-prone young Blueshirts team. They went 4-for-6 on the man-advantage. Krug was on the ice for three of those goals and had the primary assist on two of them.
So, the power play is like riding a bike for him?
“I think so,” said Krug. “I try to say that in a humble way, but that’s just something that I’ve always done really well. There are times throughout the season when I’m not playing to my potential, but it is something that comes naturally and comes back quick. And when you’re playing with great players and moving the puck quick, with the options we have, it’s so apparent what the right play is. And we have a lot of weapons out there.”
When you’ve got David Pastrnak to your left, Brad Marchand on your right and Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk in front of you, Krug’s job can look pretty easy at times. But it is not, and that became even more apparent in his most recent absence. The B’s went 3-for-13 on the man-advantage with the very talented Charlie McAvoy running the first unit, not a terrible ratio by any means. But one of the goals came from the second unit in the blowout win in Florida and it wasn’t until Brad Marchand’s goal in Tampa, which was preceded by some brilliant puck movement, did it look like the top unit was really clicking.
While Krug may have his challenges in his own end at 5-on-5, what he brings on the man advantage can sometimes be taken for granted. It shouldn’t be. He is elite at what he does best, as proven by the milestone he passed on Wednesday. His assist on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game gave him 284 points with the B’s, passing Craig Janney to top the list of most points by a U.S.-born player in club history.
“It’s special, for sure,” said Krug. “There’s a rich history with the Boston Bruins and to be a guy like that is pretty cool. I don’t want to stop there. I want to continue to help the team.”
One of coach Bruce Cassidy’s chief concerns in the final few games of the regular season is to find the right spot for Marcus Johansson. While he’s pretty much written Charlie Coyle’s name in pen as the third line center, Johansson’s spot has not been decided. Does he stay on David Krejci’s right side, which would keep Pastrnak up on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand? Or does he drop down to Coyle’s line to give that third unit more offensive punch, most likely resulting in Danton Heinen going up to the first line? He started tinkering on Wednesday, though he didn’t see enough of Johansson in either spots to make enough of a judgment.
But one of the successful by-products of the tinkering was that Pastrnak was able to re-charge the Krejci-DeBrusk duo that Cassidy felt had gone a big stagnant. DeBrusk agreed with half of that assessment.
“It was mostly me, to be honest with you,” said DeBrusk, set up for his 24th goal of the year by Pastrnak. “I think Krech has been playing great all year and, if you look at the last three games, I haven’t really done anything out there. It’s been frustrating. But any time you have a chance with different lines — and having (Johansson) back in the lineup as well — you’ trying to kickstart different things. It just seemed to be clicking when Pasta was there tonight.”
\ It was nice to be a part of that and we got some good looks.”
With Toronto playing the sputtering Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the B’s — who’ll take a six-point advantage into their weekend back-to-backs against Florida and in Detroit — will probably have to play into next week to clinch home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Leafs. Cassidy would certainly like to rest some of his big guns at some point, at least for a game. But there’s something to be said about staying sharp.
“We know that they’re not going to stop,” Krug said of the Leafs. “They’re going to continue to try and get home ice. I think it’s critical for both teams to try and get that. We know that they’re not going to stop playing and that pushes us forward. We’re gong to continue to fine-tune our game.”...
Zdeno Chara, 42, is the Bruins nominee for the Masterton Trophy, given to the player in the league that best demonstrates the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”