A week after being placed on injured reserve, Torey Krug (broken jaw on September 19) and Austin Czarnik (virus) were reinserted into the Bruins lineup during Monday’s matinee against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. The results, to say the least, were mixed.
The upside to it all was that both skaters felt good. The downside; both looked a bit rusty, surely a result of having not played since the end of September.
Czarnik, who started the game on a line with Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano, only logged 13:27 of ice time and went 7-for-12 from the faceoff dot. Krug finished with a minus-one rating and was also whistled for an illegal check to the head penalty at 14:10 of the first period.
“[I] felt okay. Felt good in the first period,” Krug said after the game. “First game in six months, [I] wish we could have come out on top for sure.”
Part of Krug’s glaring struggles came during the power play. Back on with the top power play unit with David Pastrnak at the blue line, the puck did not seem to want to sit still for Krug, or any player on the Bruins – whether on the power play, even strength or shorthanded – for that matter. As a result, the Bruins could not take advantage of a team that had allowed five power-play goals during their first two games and would also give up a shorthanded goal at 13:22 of the first.
“You know, the power play it just felt like I was doing down-and-backs the whole time,” Krug said of playing on the power play. “Until we got some sustained pressure and in the third, you’re playing catch up, trying to join every rush and that can be difficult at times.”
“He wanted to make plays, and we want that out of our players,” Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, “Like a lot of the group, it has to fall into place for everybody and it just wasn’t happening either. The puck wasn’t cooperating I don’t think with either team.”
But before the game, it wasn’t expected that Krug or Czarnik was going to play to their potential in their first contests back.
“We’re going to play it out. I mean, he [Krug] missed the playoffs last year and played maybe half of a preseason game,” Cassidy said prior to Saturday’s game, “so I’m going to assume he’s a little bit behind. He’s Torey, he’s well-conditioned, he’s been in the league. Again, he’s a good player, and he’ll just have to find his way, hopefully sooner than later.”
And on Austin Czarnik, Cassidy was actually surprised he would return so quickly.
“Maybe Czarnik, 10 days ago, didn’t look like he’d find his way, and here he is,” the Bruins bench boss said. “So step up and do what you’re asked don’t be [Patrice Bergeron], be Czarnik.”
Both Krug and Czarnik were able to return after relatively lengthy absences. As expected, both players showed some rust. But no player for the Bruins really looked any good on Monday, so there is plenty of improvement to go around, outside of just Czarnik and Krug.
Krug, as Cassidy pointed out, is an established NHL defenseman and is more than capable of turning his game around and playing like the Torey Krug Bruins fans are accustomed to seeing. Czarnik, while still young and still learning the pace of the NHL level, has had a successful pro career to this point, given his numbers (26 goals, 60 assists in Providence, five goals, eight assists with Boston). He is another one that has a high ceiling and is capable of being a full-time fixture in the Bruins lineup as part of the B’s youth movement.
Both Krug and Czarnik will be in the lineup on Wednesday as the Bruins look to avenge Monday’s loss to the Avalanche in Denver for the second game of their home-and-home.