Torey Krug accomplished something that not many hockey players straight out of college get to do. Last spring, shortly after finishing up his season at Michigan State, Krug got a shot at playing in the NHL.
The Bruins signed him on March 25, 2012 and on April 3, the defenseman made his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in one more game after that – a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators – and notched his first career assist.
That experience – even if just two games – is something Krug thinks was vitally important in making him better prepared for his first season in the AHL. So far, Krug has tallied 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 41 games for the Providence Bruins, and had a nine-game point streak snapped on February 16. Over that streak, he tallied four goals and 12 assists.
“It was an eye-opening experience, letting me know what I have to do to stay at the NHL level, consistently,” Krug said of his short stint with Boston last spring. “It was the most fun part of my life, so far. It was a blast.
“It was crucial for me. That was my first taste of professional hockey and now that I’m in Providence, I’m able to understand how guys like Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, how they go about their business.
“As a professional hockey player, they have routines they go through every day, they show up to the rink every day, willing to work, put in 100 percent effort. They’re not taking short cuts. For me, it was very vital to get that experience and understand what it takes to be at that level.”
Many AHLers haven’t had the opportunity to gain such an experience and Krug believes that it definitely gave him a leg up going into the year. He feels that he was able to grasp the amount of preparation it takes to play at the NHL level.
“Absolutely,” Krug responded, when asked if the NHL experience gave him an advantage. “Especially over the guys that haven’t been able to see it in full action. Guys that haven’t been able to be around full NHLers and see what they go through, see how they prepare on a daily basis.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that I was able to learn is the preparation that goes into it. You can’t just wake up and go to the rink. There’s a lot of things that go into it, preparing, whether you get up, eat breakfast, get to the rink early.
“I think it definitely gave me a leg up on some of the other guys that show up to the rink without having a purpose.”
Krug got off to a good start at Providence, early in the season, but was then hampered by an ankle sprain. He says shortly after Christmas he regained his legs and it has helped in succeed as of late.
“It’s been a series of ups and downs,” said the 21-year-old of his first AHL season. “I started out, I was playing pretty well, still adjusting to pro hockey, stronger, faster guys. Then, I went down with an ankle sprain that kind of left me out for almost a month.
“My skating wasn’t up to where I wanted it to be. Anytime that you injure your legs, your ankles, it’s definitely difficult to overcome. But, I just regained my legs after Christmas and I’m feeling like I’m moving a lot better. Obviously, I had a nice little run the last couple of weeks, with point production.”
While Krug has seen his offensive production spike as of late, he says his defensive game has not faltered because of it. In fact, Krug has seen his defense actually improve along with his offense.
“Actually, I think my defensive game has improved over the last few weeks,” Krug explained. “One of things that I take a lot of pride in is making my first pass out of the zone, [the] breakout pass. I think, over the last few weeks, I’ve been at the top of my game in that aspect.
“To be honest, over the last few weeks, I don’t remember playing in the defensive zone that much. That’s a credit to my D-partner and all the guys around us and our goalies making the good saves and we were able to get out of the defensive zone and play in the offensive zone, which is always more fun for everyone.”
He may be playing at a high level right now, but Krug says he still has work to do. One of his goals for the rest of this season will be making sure that he is not satisfied with where his game is at just because he is playing well.
“One of the things that I want to keep working on for the rest of the season is not being satisfied,” said Krug. “I’ve had a good little run here, but if I’m satis- fied with that then I’m not going to get any better.
“I want to keep getting better, especially in the defensive zone; there’s always room for improvement. And then, just keep doing what I do well, not only work on the things that I’m not very good at, but work on the things that I’m doing well and that’s going to get me to the next level.
“All in all, I just want our team to keep winning and hopefully we win the division, go into the playoffs rolling, pretty hot. You hope that I get a chance in Boston, but if that’s not the case, then I’m just going to control what I can and just keep trying to get better and help the team win.”
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