Thursday night’s game between the Bruins and Lightning was a blast. Tuukka Rask threw punches, David Pastrnak had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, and in the end, Brad Marchand scored the empty netter and officially declared “IT’S OVER.”
Also, Torey Krug had two assists.
In the month of March, Krug has been other-worldly, with 18 points in 13 games (1.38 points per game) and nine points in his last five.
For the season, he now has 57 points, a career best with six games left on the schedule. He’s on pace for about 62. That’s obviously very good, but it’s even better with some Bruins franchise persepective.
The last Bruins defensemen had 57 points in a season was Ray Bourque in 1998-99, making this the first time in 19 years the team has had a defenseman reach this level of production. Think about that. 19 years. Some of you weren’t even conceived of back then.
Let’s go for the big picture. Here’s a list of every Bruins defenseman with 57 or more points in a single season:
Bobby Orr (7), Carol Vadnais (2), Brad Park (3), Ray Bourque (16), Mike O’Connell (1), Glen Wesley (1), Torey Krug (1)
That’s it. Seven guys in franchise history, three of whom are Hockey Hall of Fame members. If accomplishing a first in 19 years and being one of seven players to reach that mark in the history of an Original Six organization isn’t historic, then history is meaningless.
To state the obvious, Torey Krug is not Bobby Orr or Ray Bourque. But he is exactly the player that Bruins fans and team executives alike spent about a decade looking for: a mobile blue-liner that could break the puck out efficiently and contribute on the power play. And he’s doing it better than we’ve seen done since Bourque.
Specifically on special teams, Krug has recently been playing with a level of freedom and creativity I can’t recall ever being given to a Bruins defender. Bruce Cassidy has given him some rope to make plays from areas of the ice we’re not used to seeing defensemen frequent, and it’s added a layer of danger to the Bruins’ attack.
When I hear Krug’s nay-sayers complain that he’s only so-so defensively, I wish I could show a time-lapse of the Bruins post-Bourque, where defensemen not named Chara just didn’t contribute offensively until Krug’s arrival. Remember Tomas Kaberle? Or Joe Corvo? Or even Derek Morris? That was the work of Bruins management essentially looking for a player like Krug and failing.
What I certainly can do is show you all a highlight package from the last few weeks, in which Torey Krug does things that Bruins defensmen haven’t done in the last 19 years. (Thanks as always to Chris/@CrzyCanucklehed for the video):
Check out Krug cutting in deep on the weak side to create a passing lane for this power play goal:
Or later in that game, he comes from making a posession play in the corner to the point to make a kissing-your-fingertips perfect slap pass to Marchand for a one-time goal:
How about this billiard pass to spring Marchand for the overtime winner againts the Wild:
Here’s a unique situation we’ve seen more of lately. Krug rotates low on the power play and makes a perfect pass to tee up Pastrnak for the goal:
And yet again, here he is on Thursday sagging low toward the middle of the zone on a 4-on-4 to make a sweet one-touch backhand feed for Patrice Bergeron to finish.
I dare you to recall another Bruins defensemen doing this stuff with the same level of consistency. Krug’s creativity and passing skill is beyond anything we’ve seen in Boston in a long time. If you haven’t given into the idea that he really is that good, the time is now.