- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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The 22-year-old blueliner already has experienced a Cinderella-like Stanley Cup playoffs, his first as a pro. That he’s about to face the Blackhawks in the Cup finals only adds another chapter to his inspiring story.
He’s become a phenomenon in Boston for his on-ice contributions since being recalled from the Providence Bruins of the AHL in time for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New York Rangers. He scored four goals in five games against the Rangers and contributed in every aspect of the game.
Against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference finals, Krug learned how quickly the game could speed up when facing a better, more high-powered offense in the postseason. Still, he played well and hasn’t changed his game.
“I don’t think there are any adjustments that I’ve made,” he said after the Bruins’ practice Sunday morning at TD Garden. “I’m just trying to be more efficient, especially as the playoffs go on. Some games you might feel a little more tired, so you just try to be more and more efficient, and that’s what me and Adam [McQuaid] keep trying to do.”
As far as the speed, that’s the one adjustment he’ll need to figure out on the fly.
“It’s picked up,” he said. “The desperation level has picked up quite a bit and everyone’s out there trying to do whatever they can to win hockey games. I mean, you saw in the last 30 seconds [of Game 4] all five guys on our team were in the crease, and that’s how it’s going to be from here on out.”
Boston called Krug into service due to an abundance of injuries on the blue line, but once veterans Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference returned to the lineup, fellow veteran Wade Redden became the odd man out due to Krug’s play.
“He’s been fine," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Krug. "I think so much expectations came from him after that New York Rangers round."
Regarding Krug's play in the East finals series versus the Penguins, Julien said, "Maybe he didn’t score [zero goals, one assist], but when you look at the opportunities he had, he still got some good shots through, and even the last game he made a rush that ended up in a good scoring chance.
“He’s still playing with a lot of confidence. He’s doing the things that we expect him to do. I said that the other day, he makes mistakes like everybody else once in a while, but they’re not big mistakes and he fights through it to repair them. Definitely he’s been a good player for us.”
Despite Krug's limited experience, his teammates have been impressed with his ability on and off the ice. He listens and learns from the veteran defensemen and has been receiving plenty of positive feedback.
“It’s great when guys are patting you on the back,” Krug said. “When you contribute, you feel like a bigger part of the team, especially me coming in so late. It’s a good feeling when guys are doing that.”
Besides a trip to the Stanley Cup finals as a rookie, Krug’s reward from Game 4 of the conference finals was a sliced-open bottom lip and stitches.
“It’s not bad, a little sore but worth the price,” he said. “I needed something on my face to be a little gift, I guess.”
9dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur