Boston Bruins: Matt Grzelcyk must step up for Torey Krug

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 19: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Islanders during the third period at TD Garden on December 19, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 19: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the New York Islanders during the third period at TD Garden on December 19, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Nobody can replace Torey Krug for the Boston Bruins, but Matt Grzelcyk must step up and fill an expanded role.

The Boston Bruins finally defeated the Washington Capitals last Monday, but not everything turned out great for the Bruins. Torey Krug exited the game and never returned after a big Tom Wilson hit.

There wasn’t much clarity about Krug’s status during the holiday break, other than he suffered an upper-body injury. We finally got an update on Friday morning as Boston comes back from the break.

The Bruins placed Krug on injured reserved and recalled Steven Kampfer from Providence.

There’s no timetable for a return, but since he’s on injured reserve, we have to imagine Krug will miss these next two games with Buffalo and likely games next week.

Krug is a big part of the team, and he’s impossible to replace. There’s nobody on defense who can match his offensive production, especially on the power play. No question the Bruins are worse without Krug in the lineup.

That said, his absence presents a big opportunity for Matt Grzelcyk to step up.

Expect Matt Grzelcyk to see an expanded role with Krug’s injury

The Bruins recalled Kampfer from Providence when Krug went on injured reserve, but he’s not Krug’s replacement. Kampfer is here to fill the extra roster spot and provide needed depth on the backend. If anybody fills in for Krug, it will be Matt Grzelcyk.

Bruce Cassidy will likely insert John Moore into the lineup for Krug, but Grzelcyk will be the new second left defenseman under Zdeno Chara. He’s more reliable and better all-around than Moore at this point.

As a result, Grzelcyk will definitely see his workload expand while Krug is out. His current 18:27 ATOI should creep closer to 20 over the next few games, and he’ll get more power play time.

Cassidy can choose to keep Grzelcyk on the third pair with Connor Clifton, or he can bump him up with Brandon Carlo. He may prefer to keep Grzelcyk where he is now to avoid a Moore-Clifton pairing. Either way, the Bruins will lean on Grzelcyk more than before.

Grzelcyk can match and even improve on Krug’s defense, but he certainly cannot replicate the offense. He only has 10 points this year, and his career high is 18. Boston’s power play may very well suffer without Krug.

The Bruins, however, don’t expect Grzelcyk to product like Krug. They don’t need him to. Instead, the Bruins need Grzelcyk to play stable, mistake-free hockey with his extra time on the ice. If he does that, Boston will be in good shape even without Krug in the lineup.

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We continue to talk about Krug’s contract status this summer, but we often forget that Grzelcyk is set to be a restricted free agent. Krug’s absence gives Grzelcyk the chance to prove his worth to the Bruins, now and in the future.