BOSTON (CBS) – In addition to Monday night being a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals, the chatter heading into Boston’s meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins was about Torey Krug’s chances of making the U.S. Olympic team.
Pittsburgh head coach Dan Byslma, who will man the bench for Team USA in February, said Monday morning that Krug was on his radar and he may have to extend an invite to the 22-year-old blue-liner after a hot start to the season.
Though it remains a long shot, Krug helped his odds of getting that invite to Sochi with Byslma looking on, as he put home the overtime winner to lift Boston to a 4-3 win at the TD Garden.
Just 34 seconds into the extra frame, Krug took a cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand and delivered a rocket from the left face-off dot over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury. It was Krug’s first NHL overtime winner and seventh goal of the season — tying him for the NHL lead among defensemen.
“I had a good chance early on, and then we got the puck again up near the blue line and, you know, just great composure. When you’re at the blue line, it’s a risky area, so you’ve got to make sure you take care of the puck, and we did that,” Krug said. “Marchy made an unbelievable pass through two guys, and one guy was cheating so it was good – good play by them.”
Dave Goucher’s Call Of Krug’s Game-Winner:
“I was pretty close and when you’re that close to the net you want to make a goalie make a save with his hands and it’s what I tried to do,” he continued. “I missed the net a few times throughout the game; I made some shots where I just missed the net so I was focusing on hitting the net first and foremost but then trying to make him make a save with his hands.”
Because of his ability to generate offense, Krug was the only defenseman on the ice at the time of the goal. It’s an aggressive move that head coach Claude Julien has used recently, and thinks is tailor-made for someone of Krug’s skill-set.
“He gets around, he seems to find those gaps and those holes and moves around really well,” said Julien. “Tonight he was in the right place – Marchy made a great pass there – but he picked that top corner; he knew where he was going with that shot.”
Plus/Minus: Eriksson, Soderberg Shine As Krug Nets Winner
“You’re in attack mode, you’re trying to win the game, and it shows something to us and the other team that we’re trying to win the game; we’re not just sitting back and content with a shootout,” Krug said of Julien’s aggressive approach. “It definitely can be risky at times, but we have the personnel to be able to do that.”
“It’s one of those things that when you have offensive zone face offs, why not?,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You know, you have to try to make a play and get possession of the puck, which we did. The guys made a great play and scored a goal off that.”
“So far, so good,” defenseman Johnny Boychuck said of the strategy. “Two for two so probably keep it going I’m guessing, but hopefully we don’t have to play another overtime. ”
With just eight skaters on the ice in overtime, that leaves plenty of room for the 5’9″ Krug to maneuver around looking for his spot.
“I love it,” Krug said of the four-on-four OT session. “A lot more room on the ice to skate and play with the puck, it’s more of a possession game, you’re not just chipping pucks up the wall and if you watch me play you understand I like to play with the puck so it’s a lot more fun for me for sure.”
Krug’s ability to change a game on the blue-line certainly has Bylsma’s attention now, though an invite to Team USA was the furthest from his mind on Monday night.
“I’m still not worried about it,” he said when pressed about the Olympics. “I’m worried about what’s going on here in our locker room and still try to make sure I keep my game at a level where I want it to be.”
After being passed over by every NHL team in the 2012 draft, making it to the Olympics would be a special accomplishment for the Michigan native. But that is still months away, and is no sure-thing, so for now he’ll continue to wreak havoc on the blue-line for the Bruins and focus on getting a W each time his team takes the ice.
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