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Torey Krug is undersized, he's got a distinctive name - one that lends itself naturally to a variety of silly nicknames (like Motley Krug) - and he's lighting it up as an unknown rookie in the NHL playoffs. Combine those three facts with his flowing hair and impish grin and you've got a pretty good recipe for a cult playoff hero. Krug made a name for himself with four goals in five games against the New York Rangers in the now completed Eastern Conference Semifinal series, including a big game tying power-play marker on Saturday. Let's chat about Krug's crazy series a bit more, but first, here's his dynamite slap-shot goal from Saturday:

 

 

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The play of Torey Krug, but also of the nearly traded Matt Bartkowski - who is actually filling the tougher role for the B's despite his lack of Krug-like fanfare - had a massive, positive impact for the Bruins in round two. Many thought the B's would struggle against the Rangers with a whole host of defenceman out of the lineup (Seidenberg, Ference and Redden) but, yeah, that didn't show up in the least in round two. Obviously if you need to roll out a patchwork defence, it helps if you can play Zdeno Chara in over twenty-nine minutes every single game (what a beast), but still, full credit to Bartkowski and Krug for their decisive performances against the Rangers.

 

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It'll be interesting to see if either Bartkowski or Krug manage to keep their spot in the Bruins lineup once Redden and Ference return from injury. I'd have to think both have passed Wade Redden on the depth chart (and Dougie Hamilton for that matter), but it's very probable that neither have passed Andrew Ference. Ference seems to be a bit of a ways away from returning yet (he hasn't skated, though he is working out off-ice), but he plays legitimate top-four minutes in Boston and has for years. Just based on Claude Julien's usage of the two defenceman - Bartkowski is playing way more often at even-strength, and against way more difficult competition - I think he'd probably take Krug out of the lineup upon Ference's return, while Bartkowski stays in but gets bumped down to the third pairing.

 

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In terms of potential fantasy value for next season, I think both Bartkowski and Krug probably have some. Not that I'll be drafting either of next season or anything, but I'll keep my eye on both on the waiver wire. Consider that Andrew Ference is an unrestricted free-agent this summer, and he's also a slightly below average top-four defenceman at the NHL (a dirty little secret, really). Average, below-average or whatever, Ference is an experienced top-four guy with a lot of playoff success on his resume and a "good team guy" reputation too. So that means he'll smell like the vault should he decide to hit the open market on July 5th.

 

If Ference leaves Boston as a free-agent there will be significant opportunity along Boston's blue-line, and at the moment Krug and Bartkowski appear to have the inside track over Dougie Hamilton (who might be better off skating 25 minutes a night in the AHL than playing on your third pairing anyway). If one of Boychuk, Seidenberg, or McQuaid miss any time due to injury next season, it's not a stretch to imagine one of Krug of Bartkowski playing top-four minutes for a spell next year...

 

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What's more of a stretch is imagining that Torey Krug will sustain that 25% playoff shooting clip next season...

 

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Boston's fourth line is getting a lot of love after their performance in round two, and it's well deserved. After all they're very probably the league's best fourth forward group. On Saturday, in a game at home, Gregory Campbell played over three minutes head-to-head against the Nash/Brassard line. That's striking because for most NHL teams the fourth line plays exclusively against the opponent's fourth line, an arrangement often described as a "gentleman's agreement" between coaches. The Bruins don't have to partake in any sordid agreement though, their fourth line can hold their own and be legitimately rolled out like they're a forward group composed of professional hockey players who can do their job (what a novel concept).

 

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Did Gregory Campbell's game winner on Saturday - where the sea sort of parted and everyone except Campbell fell down, but he stayed on the puck, made a nice deke and beat the goaltender - remind anyone else, even fleetingly, of Arjen Robben's European Championship winner?

 

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One more note on Boston's fourth line. The components just fit together so, so well and Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli deserves a lot of credit for putting and keeping that line together. Shawn Thornton is a face puncher who won't hurt you playing eight even-strength minutes every night, Paille is a legitimately good defensive winger, and Gregory Campbell is a solid penalty-killer and face-off ace. Paille was drafted by the Bruins Sabres a decade ago in the first round, Campbell was a throw-in in the Nathan Horton trade, and Thornton was signed in free-agency shortly after winning the Stanley Cup with Randy Carlyle's Anaheim "don't call me Mighty" Ducks.

 

It's a model fourth line, and I'd anticipate a lot of General Managers around the league looking to create their own version of it over the next couple of years. It's just such a massive advantage, especially come playoff time, to have a fourth line you legitimately trust to soak up minutes. Here's a partial list of players who might fit the bill, to some extent, in free-agency this summer: Boyd Gordon, Blake Comeau, Chuck Kobasew, Brad Richardson, David Steckel, Peter Regin (if you move him to wing and he can stay healthy), Adam Hall. Of note: none of those guys fill the Shawn Thornton role...

 

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Let's move to the West, where the Chicago Blackhawks showed up and trounced the Red Wings to force a sixth game. After watching that dominating performance by the Blackhawks it's clear as day that this series is far from over.

 

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The story on Saturday was the Blackhawks power-play, which tallied twice including a Matth Shaw tip goal that came off of a brutally persistent, ninety second power-play shift, and a Jonathan Toews beauty - his first of the postseason - only one hundred and fifty seconds later.

 

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When Chicago's power-play looks like they did on Saturday night, it's tough to fathom why they've struggled so thoroughly at five-on-four over the past two seasons. With the likes of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on the roster, there's just no excuse for it. Why the Blackhawks power-play doesn't look like they did on Saturday more often is a major question facing Bowman the younger this offseason, and if I were him I'd be preparing contract offers to Newell Brown and Matt Shaw in an effort to find a fix.

 

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The big adjustment Chicago made to turn the tide in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Red Wings? Reuniting the Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith top-pairing. Over a large sample (the past three seasons) Seabrook and Keith have been slightly better when playing together than they have been when playing apart. That said, they struggled when they played together this season, so I do sort of understand why they were separated initially.

 

Ultimately, putting them back together was the right call and Chicago does probably need their two most impactful defenceman to soak up minutes together. It might be worth noting that Coach Q didn't hard match them against any Detroit line on Saturday night and they spent just over four and a half minutes against both the Zetterberg and Datsyuk lines...

 

 

Only one NHL game on tap tonight as the Kings look to eliminate the Sharks, who are dynamite at the Shark Tank and won't be an easy out. Also there's Portland versus Halifax in the Memorial Cup Final (so Drouin and Mackinnon versus Seth Jones) and that could be well worth your time, especially considering what happened the last time MacKinnon faced the Winterhawks...

 


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Comments (6)add comment

Thomas Drance said:

Thomas Drance
... Fixed the Paille error. Sorry about that.
May 26, 2013
Votes: +1

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
... Paille was indeed a Sabre pick (20th in 2002), and its Andrew Shaw that was creating havoc infront of Howard (and drawing penalties/diving and being a general PITA).
Not sure who Matt Shaw is, but the Canucks powerplay the past season was far from impressive (missing Kesler for most of the year granted)so I dont see how Newell Brown would be seen as a saviour for the Hawks PP.
Despite his size and face off proficiency, Steckel may be to slow for the NHL, possibly a healthy scratch/emergency callup at this point in his career,Toronto dumped him for a 7th round pick.
Boyd Gordon (like Paille a 1st rnd pick in 2002) played about 15min ATOI last season, not a true 4th liner- but he will be much in demand this off season, great defensive center.
May 26, 2013
Votes: +0

MolsonX said:

MolsonX
... Seabrook/Keith re-united on the 1st PP and as the top pairing was a great move by Quennville.
May 26, 2013
Votes: +0

Manhands said:

Manhands
... Two notes: 1. I think Paille was drafted by Buffalo 2. I see Bartkowski coming out if Ference returns as their styles of play are more similar. Krug has been awesome not only putting up points but creating chances and carrying the puck out of the zone.
May 26, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Uhm Andrew Shaw?

Also @allen5938 Hamilton is hands down more talented defensively, but his defensive game needs more work than Krug's does
May 26, 2013
Votes: -1

allen5938 said:

allen5938
KRUG Boston ,despite being a good team ,has not had a dangerous power play,if Krug can impact that he will get a lot more love than you are giving him. No one on their roster has his puck skills and while he will not maintain his current pace his talent will not be ignored.
May 26, 2013
Votes: +0
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