Boston Bruins McQuaid-Krug Chemistry Key on D


Apr 2, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) is up ended by Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (54) in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Boston won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As injuries, age and the offseason trade of Dougie Hamilton hit the Boston Bruins backline and summoned a new wave of young, inexperienced talent, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid have quietly become perhaps the team’s most reliable, stabilizing defense tandem.

Each brings different but complementary traits to the ice and they’ve formed a close chemistry over the last couple of seasons that will need to continue as they are looked upon to play big minutes this year. The bond they have developed was evident in a subtle but telling play in the team’s final exhibition game against the Washington Capitals in the nation’s capital Oct. 2 after new Caps’ slick forward T.J. Oshie took a run at McQuaid and smashed him into the boards behind the B’s net. Krug immediately jumped to his partner’s defense and appeared ready to go with Oshie before McQuaid got up and intervened, quickly making Oshie pay in a mismatched fight.

“You saw tonight that guys are sticking up for each other, so that’s also a good sign in my mind,” coach Claude Julien told the Bruins Blog. “There’s some cheap shots taken and liberties, and our guys stood up for each other.”

Mar 29, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Boston Bruins defensemen Torey Krug (47) and the Carolina Hurricanes forward Patrick Dwyer (39) go after the puck during the 2nd period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

McQuaid, 28, 6’5”, 209 lbs, a right shot, was rewarded for his tough steady, defensive zone play, penalty kill ability, big hits and fierce willingness to drop the mitts in the offseason with a 4-year, $11 million deal while the left-shooting Krug, 24, 5’9”, 181 lbs, hits a contract year with hopes of solidifying a role as a top-four defenseman through his ability to carry the puck up ice, quarterback the powerplay and provide offense from the back end while continually improving his defense. The pair’s skill sets and communication work well together. “Adam is a one of a kind individual,” Krug told the Scouting Post in mid-August. “When I first came to Boston he was one of those guys I could ask anything and say anything to him and I know he’s going to give me an honest answer – he’s the definition of a Boston Bruin. He has earned everything he’s been given to this point and that includes the contract and his playing time and that’s improving, as well. He’s my favorite player to play with – we have a great chemistry. He knows where I’m going to be on the ice and I know where he’s going to be and also I can go around and punch anybody in the face and I know Adam’s going to have my back (laughter). I always joke around that I’m going to get him his personal record in penalty minutes each year if we’re playing together which is funny, but he’s one of the most honest hockey players I’ve ever seen. He knows what he does well and he’s always trying to improve. In practice, he’s one of the hardest working guys and is always working on the little things to get better and is one of the last guys off the ice every single day. Like I said – one thing to drive home about him is just how honest he is and how hard he works, and that’s a testament to him and how he carries himself, and that’s what the Boston Bruins are about.”

Krug has some feistiness to his own game, which was also on display later in the Washington game as he does not back down on D. “He’s a little pit bull,” veteran Bruins injured defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said on the Sports Journal in late March. “He’s very, very strong, and he knows how to play defensively, so I don’t have to worry about him at all.”

Apr 8, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) defends in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Krug takes pride in his overall game and has been showing the type of high work ethic and leadership qualities that earned him the captaincy at Michigan State for two seasons.

“When people say the team is sheltering me, I don’t believe it for one second because I know that the coaching staff trusts me to play defensively and I’ve earned that trust and I will continue to earn that,” Krug added on the Scouting Post. “Now that I’ve done what I’ve done it doesn’t just sit there – it will go away if I don’t continue to earn it. For me, I take care of my defensive zone (responsibilities) first and that’s my pride and joy. I make sure I get back and move the puck out. People can talk about my defensive game…well, I don’t have to play as much defense as some of the other players because I go back and I break the puck out successfully and I spend the least amount of time in our zone because of that. The best defensemen don’t have to play defense as much as others. Some are put in different situations more often than others and I just try to make the best of whatever situation I’m given.”

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  • The McQuaid-Krug partnership should serve as a good role model for young new B’s defenders like Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller. “Hopefully the guys can rely on you. And again it is an opportunity to try and play more regularly and against top players, and it’s a good challenge,” McQuaid told the Sports Journal during a similar situation last season when Hamilton had gone down to injury and he and Krug were heavily relied upon.

    Krug’s style of quickly pushing the offensive pace also fits in perfectly with a new strategy Julien has adopted entering this season to speed up breakouts and have a defenseman jump into the offense more frequently to create four-man attacks. With 81 points in 160 NHL games and the team’s top puck mover, he’s poised to have a potentially big production year.

    The one thing that may continue to hurt the B’s since the Tyler Seguin trade is a lack of top elite offensive star power among their forwards, particularly where the best teams seem to have one or two big time gamebreakers. That seemed to be the difference in the end result of the 2-1 loss in Washington as the Caps piled on a little more frequent and higher quality scoring chances than the B’s until top sniper Alex Ovechkin finally broke through in the third and Oshie won it in the shootout. Tuukka Rask was on top of his game and kept the Bruins in it, stopping everything in sight through two periods before giving way to Jeremy Smith. The B’s seemed more competitive in the game against the Caps than last year and definitely showed more fight (four majors) to go with a little more speed and jump at times and were ‘harder to play against’ in their renewed team-wide emphasis on sticking up and working hard for one another, but will need everyone contributing in a scoring-by-committee approach from all the forwards through the defensemen to have a chance this year. “[The Capitals are] a big, physical team and they were being physical and so were we, so it was (a) real good game to evaluate,” Julien added on the Bruins Blog. “A lot of players under different circumstances, whether it was the physical part of it, whether it was the pace of the game on the forecheck and all of that, so this was a great way to finish our preseason.”

    Being a good team is what counts, David Pastrnak told the Bruins twitter account. “No matter if you play first or fourth line or power play or not,” he said. “We’re all here as one guy.”

    Meanwhile as the 2015-16 season opens one key certainty is that Krug and McQuaid seem ready to lead the charge and patrol of the blueline.

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