On the eve of the new season, I was talking to Boston coach Claude Julien about the importance of Zdeno Chara to his younger defensemen. The behemoth captain naturally gave a boost of confidence to his mates when he was out there and one of the beneficiaries was Torey Krug. The young offensive defenseman had a pretty sweet rookie campaign for the Bruins and Julien expected Krug to have a big opportunity to continue that success this season. Then Chara went down with a knee injury.
Now, Krug has been sidelined with a broken finger that will keep him out of the lineup for two to three weeks. With Kevan Miller also on the shelf and Johnny Boychuk traded to the Islanders, the Bruins defense corps is in dire need of reinforcements. Do they have the right personnel?
Optimistically, they do. No one on the level of Chara of course, but very few teams in the world have a player like him to begin with. The Bruins called up David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow in the wake of Krug's injury and both players can contribute on the offensive end of the ice. This is important, since Chara and Krug were the most dangerous weapons the B's had on the blueline, both tallying 40 points last season and putting them 15 points clear of the next defender, Dougie Hamilton.
No doubt the Bruins power play is going to suffer anyway.
"There is nobody better in front of the net than Zdeno," Julien said. "You either leave him open, or waste your time trying to move him."
Krug, a slick operator from the point, tied center David Krejci for the Boston lead in power play points last season with 19, so this really is a double-whammy for the B's. But if there is a silver lining, it's Boston's schedule. Some of the opponents the Bruins will face without Krug include Buffalo, Florida, Toronto, Edmonton and perhaps Carolina.
Warsofsky and Morrow are pretty decent prospects and this speaks to the depth Boston has built up in the minors, especially with Zach Trotman already up with the team. If the Bruins, who have struggled early, can win the games they're supposed to win with Krug sidelined, then everything will be fine. Chara will return a few weeks later and there is still a lot of hockey to be played.