May 26, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-05-26

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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