The World is Learning What the Spartan Nation Already Knew: Torey Krug is Special On and Off the Ice!
Each NHL playoff team needs an unheralded hero to win the Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins found their hero in East Lansing in Torey Krug.
The Bruins appeared to be finished in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Trailing the Maple Leafs 4-1 in the third period of game seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Bostonâ€™s playoff run looked like it would end as quickly as it had started. But an improbable, unforgettable comeback victory granted the Bruins an appearance in the semifinals.
Heading into the second round of the playoffs, experienced defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden were all unavailable due to various injuries. The Bruins looked to have a tough road ahead against the Rangers. To fill in for the injured veterans, the club called upon Krug.
Before appearing in his first NHL postseason contest, Krug had only played in three regular season NHL games. Following the conclusion of his junior season at Michigan State, in which he recorded 12 goals and 34 points, Krug decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to sign a free agent contract with the Bruins on March 25, 2012. In a brief stint with the pro club, the defenseman played in two games, recording one assist. But before the playoffs started, the Livonia, Michigan native was sent to the teamâ€™s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.
In his first full professional season, Krug played primarily in Providence, receiving only one call-up over the course of a lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He used the time to develop the defensive aspect of his game, proving to be a quick learner under experienced P-Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.
Twice voted a Spartan team captain, Krug endeared himself to his MSU teammates with his clutch playmaking ability. In his first NHL playoff match, Krug displayed that same talent. With just over 17 minutes to play in the third period of game one, the Bruins were trailing the New York Rangers, 2-1. Krug had played a solid game up to that point, earning himself time with Bostonâ€™s powerplay unit. With time on the man advantage dwindling, fellow rookie and blueliner Dougie Hamilton flipped Krug the puck. Krug skated in from the left side of the point to the faceoff circle before coolly firing a slapshot underneath the left arm of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Krug could not have picked a better time for his first career goal, as his tally evened the game at two and gave the Bruins much-needed momentum. Boston would go on to win the game in overtime, 3-2.
A pessimist might have called Krugâ€™s performance a â€œflukeâ€ or â€œdumb luck.â€ The Spartanâ€™s numbers in game two would silence all nay-sayers. Five minutes into Bostonâ€™s second showdown with the Rangers in the semifinals, Krug started off a Bruins scoring fest. Boston winger Nathan Horton passed the puck to Krug, who received the pass between his legs as he skated toward the net. Krug somehow managed to quickly get the puck on his stick before firing a wrist shot past New York defender Dan Giradi and through the five-hole of Lundqvist, prompting NBC Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire to marvel, â€œThey must be teaching a lot of unique skill at Michigan State.â€
Krugâ€™s beautiful goal, along with a primary assist on a Gregory Campbell goal in the second period, earned him third star honors in Bostonâ€™s 5-2 victory.
The rookie sensation did not appear on the scoresheet of the Bruinsâ€™ 2-1 victory in game three, but Krug did log over 18 minutes of ice time and sent four pucks on goal. His assault on the New York net continued in game four. Receiving a pass from Tyler Seguin, Krug blasted a nasty slap shot over the glove of Lundqvist midway through the second period. The one-timer, power play goal from the point gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead. The Rangers eventually managed to mount a desperate comeback and extend the series by winning the game in overtime, 4-3.
The Rangersâ€™ win in game four would only delay the inevitable, as Boston would send New York packing in game five. Krug played a major role, as the rookie netted a goal early in the second period. Standing near the top of the right faceoff circle, Krug sent a wicked one-timer over Lundqvistâ€™s glove to knot the contest at one. Krugâ€™s rocket brought the Boston crowd to its feet and stunned the New York netminder. With the tally, the young blueliner became the first defenseman in Stanley Cup history to score four goals in his first five playoff games. The Bruins would go on to win 3-1, thus vanquishing the Rangers by winning the series four games to one.
â€œThereâ€™s no doubt he was magic for us in the series to score that many goals,â€ Boston head coach Claude Julien said. â€œThe confidence he showed playing in this series is pretty outstanding. Weâ€™ve always felt good about him in our organization.â€
Krug has similarly always felt assured about being a Bruin. â€œWhen I signed, I chose Boston for this reason. I wanted to win a Stanley Cup,â€ Krug explained. â€œI knew that they expected to win a Stanley Cup year after year, and I knew that we were going to be in contention every year. Iâ€™m just glad that I got the opportunity to come in, step in and contribute and try to help this team win. Itâ€™s been an unbelievable year, for sure.â€
Following Krugâ€™s amazing playoff debut, Boston fans and national media were left wondering, â€œWhere did this kid come from?â€ The simple answer is Michigan State, but the long answer is that his offensive ability has been there all along. In his junior campaign, Krug became the first MSU defenseman to claim a Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) scoring title, and the first league blueliner to do so since Western Michiganâ€™s Wayne Gagner accomplished the feat for the 1986-87 season. Krugâ€™s 26 career goals rank him eighth all-time among Spartan defenders. This year, in 70 total games with the Providence Bruins, Krug recorded 13 goals and 48 points.
Though Krug may deceive you with his size, as he stands at 5â€™9, 180 pounds, the 22-year old can generate offense in a heartbeat. A shifty player, Krug can maneuver into small shooting lanes and bury the puck in the net. The offensive minded defenseman strikes fear in the hearts of opposing goaltenders with his wicked slapshots and his pinpoint precision. His one-timer rockets are a thing of beauty, and tough to stop.
Krugâ€™s teammates have taken notice of his skills. â€œ[He has] unbelievable poise with the puck,â€ fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. â€œ[He has] great skating legs. He jumps to the open areas. And he makes very nice shotsâ€¦I mean perfect shots.â€ Krug has even been christened with a nickname. Teammate Shawn Thornton has started to call the newest Bruins defenseman â€œFreddy,â€ an allusion to Freddy Krueger, the villain from A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Heading into a best-of-seven series with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins will need â€œFreddyâ€ to continue his offensive onslaught. Expect Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma and his players to be ready for Krug, unlike New York head coach John Tortorella and his troops. As Bostonâ€™s injured defensemen begin to heal, the pressure on Krug to perform will increase. But the composed young Spartan is ready for the challenge.
â€œYou never know whatâ€™s going to happen when these guys get back,â€ Krug said. â€œYou never know what the coaching staff is going to decide. You just do your part to take advantage of the opportunity you were given.â€
Regardless of what happens in the upcoming series with the, Krug has boundless potential in a league ever hungry for offensive defensemen. Krug knows that he is living his dream, playing world-class hockey on the biggest stage in the world. â€œItâ€™s a great opportunity,â€ Krug said. â€œIâ€™m very lucky to have it.â€