Krug: Goal is to be on team 'opening night'

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli recently said he’s expecting an influx of younger players to make contributions this upcoming season and beyond.

Defenseman Torey Krug, 22, is among that group of young players and he’s already given fans a sneak peak of what to expect. Injuries to key Boston defensemen during the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring allowed the Bruins to see how Krug would handle playing on such a big stage.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder was thrust into second round action against the New York Rangers and quickly proved crucial. Krug became a phenomenon in Boston when he scored four goals in five games against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Defensively, he was strong, too.

In the conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and in the Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, Krug experienced the NHL at it finest. He dealt with a few growing pains along the way, but proved he can play at this level.

With the official start of training camp less than a week away on Sept. 11, Krug is among several players already participating in captain’s practices at Ristuccia Arena. When camp ends and the 2013-2014 regular season begins, Krug wants to remain in Boston and avoid a trip to the AHL. His goal is to become a top six defenseman for the Bruins, joining the likes of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton.

“That’s what I expect. That’s what I want to do,” Krug said. “My goal is to be on the team opening night and throughout the season, but management is the one making that decision, so I’m just going to keep my head down, remain confident and do what I do.”

After making his NHL debut with the Bruins in the final two regular season games of the 2011-2012 season, Krug returned to Michigan State to finish his classes and watched the Stanley Cup playoffs on television. During that offseason, he had the mindset he needed to get bigger and stronger in order to compete at the NHL level.

His experience during the 2013 playoffs and Stanley Cup run gave him a new perspective on his offseason workouts.

“This summer I changed a little bit,” he said. “I wanted to get more explosive. My style of game is all about explosiveness and my first three steps. Obviously, you always want to get stronger, so I also concentrated on that so I could battle with the bigger guys in front. That was pretty much what I concentrated on.

“Last year I had no idea what to expect going into my first pro camp. I went down to Providence and worked on whatever I could during the lockout. This summer coming into camp, it’s a little more exciting. I’m more comfortable in the room. With the group of guys in here it’s a family atmosphere. So, coming in I’m more comfortable and my confidence is high. I’m just going to keep my head down and go to work.”

A second-year pro, Krug has no idea what to expect from a full 82-game NHL season and the grind that comes along with it.

“It’s going to be different,” he said. “In Providence we played three games in a weekend then you have a whole week of practice to regroup. Here, you have three games in a week -- Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday -- or whatever the schedule it. It’s a little bit different with less time on the ice for practice and development but you need to really make sure you take care of yourself.”

Given his success during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, the organization and its fans will expect similar contributions from Krug this season.

“Yeah, I’m OK with that,” he said with a smile. “I have those expectations of myself. Obviously, I’m not going to be scoring goals at that rate that I did in the playoffs, but that’s what I want to try to do. As long as I’m helping the team win that’s all I care about. That’s the reason I came to Boston to win a Stanley Cup and that’s the goal at the beginning of each season and that’s the way you have to approach every game.”