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Insider Only Scouting the Bruins Defensemen: Has Krug made Bruins better equipped to match up against Pens speed?

Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Wade Redden – Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference – Aaron Johnson
The Penguins were 3-0 against the Bruins in the regular season, all one goal games. What stood out in all three games is that despite how good defensively the Bruins are, the Bruins “D” struggled at times to match up against the Penguins speed upfront, something of a concern for Boston.
The Bruins play a tight structure and like to keep teams to the outside,  but when breaking down the matchup of the Penguins forwards vs Bruins defensemen, Pittsburgh has the ability to beat them wide and chip pucks deep and put immense pressure on the Bruins D.
“They’re a patient group, team that plays well defensively,” winger Pascal Dupuis said of the Bruins. “Have good defenseman, bigger size guys and they play physical game. They don’t give you much,” Dupuis said.”
While the Bruins don’t give you much, have injuries made them better equipped to matchup against the Penguins this series?
Injuries to Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden, saw the Bruins get younger and quicker with the additions of Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski to the lineup in Boston’s second round series vs New York.
The 5-foot-9 Krug went undrafted and just two summers ago was bouncing around NHL summer prospect camps. He’s suddenly come onto the scene this post-season with 4 goals, 1 assist and a +3 rating in five playoff games.
What Krug has added to the Bruins blueline is another dimension with the speed and offensive creative ability he possesses.
“His skating ability is really a big part of his offense that he brings and he’s showed that in a lot of different scenarios,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said of Krug. “Something we haven’t seen from other than tape to this point and that’s a different dynamic for their team and to their group, especially on the backend. Their power play with him back there is a different dimension to their power play unit, and what his numbers have put up is pretty spectacular for a guy to be able to come in and jump in the lineup and bring that to the team.”
As the Bruins are getting healthy on the backend, the question heading into Game 1 is whether the Bruins go back to an older lineup or keep going with what’s working and sensing the need to be quicker on the backend against the Penguins.
In Game 5 against the Rangers, Boston used the following defensive pairs:
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski – Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Heading into Game 1 for the Eastern Conference Finals, Andrew Ference is making progress and could be an option to play Saturday night, and Wade Redden is ready to go.
“We’re pretty good, actually. We’ve got Andrew [Ference] out, he’s making progress. Wade [Redden] is close, if not ready. Just the bumps and bruises are minor,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told CSN New England on Sunday. “We got Dennis [Seidenberg] back. We’re in pretty good shape right now, knock on wood.”
Ference is practicing today and speaking to those in Boston, the sense is if Andrew Ference is ready to go for Game 1, Matt Bartkowski will be the odd-man out and Redden is likely to stay in the press box with Krug remaining in the lineup.
Dennis Seidenberg returned to the Bruins lineup Saturday afternoon vs the Rangers in Game 5, and was immediately paired with Zdeno Chara as the Bruins No. 1/shutdown pairing.
The Bruins will look to get Chara on the ice in nearly every situation Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin is on the ice and the dilemma for the Bruins is whether to split Chara and Seidenberg to match up against the Crosby and Malkin line as Chara can’t match up against both.
“If you look at our team, he can’t just play against one line,” Dupuis said of Chara. “Good thing we have going here.”
The Bruins are not tipping their hand yet on whether they plan to flip flop Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk on the first and second D-pairs, as Chara and Seidenberg were paired together again this morning.
“We’ve got a few days here before we can even think about playing that first game,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said Monday when asked about splitting up Chara and Seidenberg. “We’ll see how that goes. Maybe it’s pairing. Maybe it’s separating. But we’ll have something in mind by the time this first game comes around.”
If the three regular season games were a sign of what’s to come, the Penguins focus will be about coming hard on the forecheck and hitting Chara at every opportunity they get when the 6-foot-9 defenseman is back in his own end retrieving pucks.
As dominant as Chara is, he’s 36 years old and a guy who’s averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. Pittsburgh will try to wear him down.
“They have a good structure to their team, good defensive structure to their team,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of the Bruins. “Their defense, we certainly focus on Chara and the role he plays on defensive side of their game and matchup that he is to play against, they work for that matchup.”

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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