It’s becoming more and more clear that Offensive Defensemen are finding themselves called upon to be big impacts for their teams...but many seem to focus on just one column of the scoresheet when evaluating them, which is understandable, but a bit limiting. They’re asked to do so much more these days than just take a huge shot and get goals. The modern “offensive” defenseman is expected to jumpstart rushes, open up space, take players out of the backcheck and create chances for their team, with many teams starting a good number of their offensive zone cycles up at the point or re-starting their cycle at the point. Boston was no exception in this regard.
And on a team that was desperate to get anyone from their middle six scoring, only one other player on the Bruins could even say they compared in getting their teammates an opportunity to score, And usually when he got his chance to score himself he made the absolute most of it.
Krug played almost all the way to the bitter end to do so, appearing in almost every regular season Boston Bruins game until an ill-timed injury kept him out of the playoffs for good. But they’d be fine without him, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
Boston’s defense this year was structured in a way that, even if it did have it’s brutal hiccups, maximized puck possession and allowed the defensive defenseman to win a board battle with forward support, then send it to the offensive defenseman to get the puck out or to make a pass. This usually worked very well for Boston. In fact, in terms of on-ice possession, the second pairing was always near, or in the top 5 of all defense pairings in the NHL. Krug and McQuaid! Top 5! Hell, this year Torey Krug’s individual impact was, by the individual numbers...better than Erik Karlsson’s. He beat players like Roman Josi and Alex Pietrangelo for points and finished 8th among defensemen in points. For the entire league.
And when Krug couldn’t play in the playoffs, you noticed how it affected the team for the worse. All the easy passes to get the puck out of the defensive zone vanished. And so went the ability to get the middle six forwards going from the point...and so went the ability to keep up with Ottawa and attack the 1-3-1 to the fullest extent. The Defense pairings that weren’t Chara and McAvoy after a certain point just couldn’t handle play like the Krug-McQuaid pairing could and it cost Boston.
Losing McQuaid might’ve been difficult, due to his resurgence, but losing Krug, in my opinion, was absolutely the straw that broke the camel’s back. Boston had scoring issues all year, and having one of the few guys who could spur the team into getting goals out for the playoffs made it just so much harder to attack the 1-3-1 that assaulted our eyes in the Eastern Conference final.
Were he available, I’m certain things might’ve gone differently for Boston.
Also punching Andrew Shaw in the face is something I’d like to see him and the rest of the NHL do more often.
Torey Krug stayed within the top 5 of point-getters for Boston all year, stayed within the top 10 of defenseman in getting points, and in general spurred a team that was desperate to make the post-season and desperate to score goals much better with his inclusion. And when he wasn’t able to play, Boston felt the impact.
Games Played: 81
Playoffs Statline: N/A
Final Aggregate CF%: 57.42%
What do you think of Krug’s grade?
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