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Grade the Players: Torey Krug’s play earned him a big payday, and he took it

Krug’s creativity on the power play helped make it the league’s best man advantage.

NHL: Eastern Conference Qualifications-Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A-

Torey Krug’s time in Boston was memorable for all the right reasons.

A fantastic teammate, his banter with teammates, namely public social-media friendly jabs with Brad Marchand offered a farcical reprieve. Outside of being a leader in the locker room and on the ice, Krug loved the city, volunteering time and resources and often praising the people who reside in The Hub.

However, a return to the black and gold ultimately wasn’t in the cards due to cap constraints, and Krug signed with the St. Louis Blues, netting a lucrative seven-year, $45.5 million contract.

Before he took that deal, Krug had one last excellent season in Boston.

Krug’s underlying possession numbers remained stellar, as his 55.46 Corsi For rating was the second best of his career.

While Krug has been a stalwart on the left side of the second pairing alongside Brandon Carlo for much of recent memory, his best production came on at the point of the Bruins’ vaunted first power play unit.

This season, 28 of his 49 points came on the man advantage. Krug mainly operated as a facilitator, often setting up David Pastrnak’s patented one-timer. However, Krug could also set up other options or drive a shot on net, looking for a tip from the man in front or Patrice Bergeron at the bumper.

This latter option usually occurs when the opposition prioritizes taking away Pastrnak’s Richard Rocket-worthy shot. Therefore, Krug looks towards the net or to a safety option, Brad Marchand at the right faceoff circle. Krug, as the pointman, has to make the decisions on which option is the best, which is why he is so vital to the power play’s efficiency.

Krug is also tasked with facilitating zone entries, retrieving the puck when the opposition dumps it into the Bruins’ end and leading the breakout back up the ice. As a skilled skater with quick movement, Krug had the ability to skate the puck on his own or do things like this:

The stretch pass off the end boards, perfectly finding a streaking David Pastrnak, illustrate the kind of creativity and execution that the Bruins will miss without Torey Krug.

As such a gifted passer, the Michigan State product has a great feel for the ice and can find teammates on a whim. His 3:53 minutes of power play time per game illustrated how essential he was to that unit. His exceptional passing afforded him opponents to showcase his ability to play with the puck on his stick on the man advantage, as defenders would hold pressure off of him due to Krug’s space from the goalfront and danger of other potent weapons on the Bruins attack.

This time and space afforded him the opportunity to walk the blue line, opening a potential passing line for Pastrnak’s one-timer, or rotating down the right side, where switching places with Marchand criss-crossed defensive matchups. The movement opened shooting and passing lanes, forcing the defensive to shift as they did.

With his production on the power play and high offensive point production, Krug’s defensive play was often ridiculed. With high amounts of energy spent on the other side of the ice, Krug’s less-than-intimidating stature did nothing to bully opponents off the puck.

However, as he played with defensive-minded Carlo, his partner frequently neutralized the opposition and took the brunt of the bearing off of Krug’s shoulders in the defensive zone. The duo complemented each other well and were able to succeed at both ends of the ice due to their differing skill sets.

While the Bruins will likely look to Matt Grzelcyk to replace Krug on the first power play unit, his leadership and production will be hard to replicate.

However, Krug’s love for the city, his teammates, and the Boston Bruins organization will be impossible to reproduce.


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