BOSTON (CBS) – Just a few weeks ago, Torey Krug was on top of the world.
He was one of three rookies the Boston Bruins were relying on to stabilize an injured blue-line as they began their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers, and he burst into the playoffs with a bang.
In his first playoff game, he scored his first NHL goal — on the power play nonetheless — to help Boston to a 3-2 overtime victory. He’d score three more times in the four remaining games of the series, as Boston convincingly advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
With injured veteran defensemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg returning from injury, both rookies Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski found their way back to the ninth floor. But Krug, with a new nickname and veteran-like presence on the ice, remained as the Bruins swept their way to the Stanley Cup Final against the favorite Pittsburgh Penguins.
But Krug quickly returned to earth with one errant pass in Wednesday night’s Game 1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. As he attempted to clear the puck out of the Boston zone his pass was picked off by Andrew Shaw, giving the Blackhawks a two-on-one that ended with Dave Bolland beating Tuukka Rask. That pulled Chicago within a goal midway through the third period, and would be a huge swing in momentum as the Blackhawks tied the game just a few minutes later, and Krug found himself on the bench until his fresh legs were needed during the triple-overtime affair.
Welcome to the Stanley Cup, kid.
Mistakes happen to everyone. Some are big, some are small, but they happen. Whether they are a simple typo, a missed meeting, or a turnover that leads to a goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, they happen.
What matters most is how people bounce back from those mistakes. And that is why Claude Julien was quick to back his rookie defenseman on Thursday, and from all that the head coach said, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be making any changes on Boston’s blue line because of one error — however costly.
“When you look at games, there are a lot of mistakes made,” Julien said from the team’s hotel on Thursday. “Some end up as goals, and some you’re able to recover from. We certainly shouldn’t look and judge this player on one game where he might have been average instead of real good, like he has been. Those are part of a player getting better and it doesn’t mean we lose confidence in him because we still had the confidence to put him out there in overtime.”
“It is what it is,” said Julien. “It’s easy to focus in on one thing, and yes, it was a mistake to throw that puck up the middle, but if you look back at the play, I didn’t think we had a good line change and he didn’t have a ton of options. There could be some blame shared on that goal.”
As for Krug, he’s just looking for an opportunity to make up for his error.
“When you make a mistake like that all you want to do is get out there and redeem yourself, make sure you can help your teammates,” the anxious 22-year-old said Thursday. “There’s a group of guys in there that you feel like you let down. I’m itching to get back on the ice to have that opportunity.”
“For me it’s once again earning the coaches trust,” he said. “Taking that responsibility and making something out of it, that opportunity and using it to your advantage.”
“My game is a risky game,” he explained. “That was a risky play that I would probably try again in the future — I would just execute it differently. Playing that way you have to have a short-term memory, and I think the best players do. I’ll quickly forget about it; I’ll learn from it but I’ll forget about it.”
That, in a nutshell, is the Boston Bruins. They’ve made it a point to learn from, but move on from those kinds of mistakes. As Julien said, the Bruins had other opportunities they did not take advantage of and committed other mistakes throughout the marathon loss in Game 1.
But that is all behind them, as their focus has shifted on to Saturday night’s Game 2.
“What makes this team special is just having that short-term memory and understanding this is a series. They made it that way for a reason and it’s not over until it’s over,” said Krug. “We’ve been on both sides of that. It’s one of those things you can lean on the guys that have been through everything and use it to your advantage.”
Krug has plenty of veteran players to lean on and learn from, and he should get a chance to show what he’s learned from that one play come Saturday night.
Tune in to every game of the Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Bruins. Pregame coverage begins one hour before, with full postgame coverage with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers after each game.