Any thoughts of Torey Krug being a flash in the pan in the 2013 postseason, when he burst onto the scene with four goals and two assists in 15 playoff games, have quickly been extinguished by his hot start to the 2013-14 regular season.
Krug's only 22 and is playing in his first full NHL season, but he’s tied with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for most goals by a defenseman, with six so far this season. That’s good enough for second on the Bruins as he trails only Milan Lucic (seven goals) for most goals and he’s tied for fourth in points (10). It’s been quite a whirlwind for the former Michigan State captain these past few years as he was never even drafted, but signed with Boston in March 2012.
For years under head coach Claude Julien, the Bruins have been known for excellent defensive play and conservative defensemen. Krug is an outlier to this model since he is superb at jumping into the rush (witness his goal Oct. 26 vs. New Jersey) and is also a real weapon on the power play (three goals, three assists). Boston’s power play unit is still middle of the pack - ranked No. 16 entering Monday afternoon’s tilt with Tampa Bay - but the B's scored twice vs. Toronto on Saturday and they are clearly trending in the right direction. A good power play takes more than one or two guys, but Jarome Iginla has certainly brought a powerful shot and presence while Krug’s confidence is obvious whenever you see him step onto the ice.
One of the reasons that Julien can live with Krug taking chances offensively is that he’s more than just an offensive-minded defenseman like Florida’s Brian Campbell. He might be small (generously listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds) but his low center of gravity makes him strong on his skates and tough to knock off the puck. He doesn’t have Zdeno Chara’s incredible slap shot but he’s very accurate (16.7 shooting percentage, third best on the team), using a variety of shot types and shooting angles. Krug plays on the second defensive pairing with Dennis Seidenberg, averaging a healthy 17:46 of ice time. While his fellow young defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski have been in and out of the lineup, Krug’s place has never been in jeopardy.
It’s hard not to see Krug becoming a fan favorite, if he isn’t already there, as he’s one of only two Americans on the Bruins - along with Bartkowski. Those two each played college hockey as well, showing the value of developing and maturing in school rather than jumping right into pro hockey as an 18 or 19-year-old kid.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate