The Krug-McQuaid Blend: A Different Look at "Chemistry"
BostonBruins.com - We talk about "chemistry" with lines. Wingers acclimating themselves to their centerman say it's only a matter of time, before they can "find each other" on the ice.
"You hope that the chemistry is there right off the get-go. Obviously, it's hard to build that chemistry but you hope that it's there," Milan Lucic would say, of playing with a new linemate.
"We click very well," Daniel Paille would say, of the forechecking and cycle game he and his linemates Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell effortlessly put into action. "We're all pretty comfortable with each other and, at the same time, we really enjoy playing together."
We don't often use it to reference defensive pairings.
"Oh, I love playing with Adam," remarked Krug, as his smile stretched, when he spoke about No. 54 following Day 4 of on-ice practices at training camp.
It wasn't necessarily the response I would think to get, but I knew the duo enjoyed manning the blueline together, and the immediate, genuine remark was just perfect.
"I know where he’s going to be all the time and I hope he knows where I’m going to be all the time, but we’ve started to build a little bit of chemistry."
"And I know he’s always going to be in the right position to back me up if I make a mistake so, once again, it’s another teammate giving me some confidence to play the game that I need to play."
For a risk-taking blueliner like Krug, that "stay-at-home" type quality to a game like McQuaid's helps shore up the back end when he makes the quick decision to jump up into the play.
Amidst Boston's training camp, combinations and pairings are never set in stone. There's nearly of month of practices, exhibition games and competition to crack the lineup before the regular season begins on October 3.
A quick look at the camp lineups this past week shows, among the 16 defensemen, Chara with P-Bruin Zach Trotman, Matt Bartkowski with Kevan Miller, who he formed a solid pairing with in Providence last season, Johnny Boychuk along the blueline with David Warsofsky, and Dennis Seidenberg alongside Dougie Hamilton, a duo we saw frequently in Boston during the 2012-13 regular season.
When it comes to the back end, there has been much conversation around Torey Krug, Bartkowski and Hamilton are all vying for full-time roles for the 2013-14 campaign, joining mainstays McQuaid, Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk.
"They’re together now right now, I think it’s something that we’ve seen in the past. Got a big defensive defenseman that is strong and big and the other guy is quick and agile and will carry the puck, so it’s a good mixture there," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following the team's fourth day on the ice at camp.
A good "chemistry," one might say.
"And that’s certainly something that we may see down the road, but that’s one of the things that we like about it; there’s a good blend there."
The duo combined that mix of force and explosiveness for 15 postseason games in 2012-13, and have been the match when Krug had been called up to the big club before his playoff coming out party with four goals in his first five games en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
"You know, we played a little bit in my whopping three regular season games that I’ve played with the Bruins," he said, sarcastic emphasis on the 'whopping.'
But is hasn't taken long at all for one to understand the other's approach to the game.
"We’ve played a little bit together, but obviously in the postseason, we started to gel a little bit and we were able to talk out our problems, what we thought about certain plays, and we’ve been able to work a lot out so hopefully we can continue to do that and just keep getting better each day."
They've been rubbing off on each other, too. Krug isn't shy of the fact that he's 5-foot-9. There are only two other 5-foot-9 blueliners currently on NHL rosters and one who is listed at 5-foot-8. Most league blueliners pass the 6'0" threshold -- like McQuaid, who uses his 6-foot-4 frame to throw his weight whenever he can. There's a reason the B's call him "The Lone Wolf," and it's not just because he's a stay-at-home defenseman (look up "Lone Wolf McQuade" with Chuck Norris and you'll see what I mean).
When Krug spent 2012-13 in Providence (he only suited up in one game with Boston during the regular season), he was mostly paired with Garnet Exelby, and they formed a solid pairing for the P-Bruins, especially when Matt Bartkowski was recalled to the big club in March and through the end of April.
"A real physical guy; they're always banging bodies around," smiled Krug, of playing with the likes of Exelby and McQuaid. "If anything, it makes me more physical."
Any maybe Torey's laser shot (do we call it the TK47, yet?) will rub off on McQuaid…
"As you can see as well, we’re kind of different style defensemen," said No. 54, with a brief laugh and hint of 'you know what I'm talking about it.'"
"So I think we complement each other well. He can get up on the play and I tend to hang back a little bit more so it’s nice to able to play with a guy like that. And we have a pretty good relationship off the ice so that helps a lot, too."
It's not just during camp, when McQuaid is paired with Krug, that he's been speaking highly of the success they had last season, albeit for 15 playoff games and a regular season go-round.
"Obviously we'll see what happens, but I enjoyed playing with him last year in the playoffs," the defenseman had said at the team's annual golf tournament Monday, before camp began. "It was a short time but I think if we got the opportunity to play together more, I think it could be a good thing."
They have that chance now, even though we won't yet have a clear picture whether it's short-term for camp, a trend that continues towards the regular season, or a pairing we'll see in the Black & Gold's future.
"I think it’s no question how well he did last year and hopefully he can just build on it," said McQuaid. "You don’t really look at him as a guy who’s only had a few regular season games, you almost kind of look at him like a veteran on our team."
A compliment for the complement (who, in the first episode of the Bruins' all-access TV show "Behind The B," was projected as possibly the "next warrior for us," similar to Andrew Ference - a remark that hit home for the defenseman).
Krug may have picked up some grit to his game, and we did see McQuaid rifle in a shot from the point to clean out the series against Pittsburgh and send the B's to the Final…
So, maybe a few of the elements in Krug's make-up will transfer to his game?
"Maybe. I don’t know," he laughed. "I think we’ll kind of try and stick to our strengths. But, you’re always looking to chip in other ways that you can."