By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug will begin the first three weeks of his new season the same way his previous season ended: In a walking boot with a left ankle injury, and watching from the press box.
“Torey sustained a left ankle injury in the last preseason game,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed Monday. “So he’s gotta go in a boot for the next three weeks and then he’ll be re-evaluated.”
Per Sweeney (and Krug), the injury may be to the same ankle, but is not related to the ankle fracture that kept the 5-foot-9 defender on the shelf for majority of Boston’s exhaustive training camp.
With Krug out, the Bruins are hoping defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s health will progress enough to throw him into action when the Bruins open their 2018-19 regular season against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
Grzelcyk got through the majority of Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena fine, but Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy noted that he’ll have a better idea of Grzelcyk’s progression following tomorrow’s practice.
If Grzelcyk is unable to go, the Bruins will have to turn first-year North American pro Urho Vaakanainen, who did more than impress the Bruins throughout his training camp run, and clearly believes he’s NHL-ready.
“I think I can play in the NHL, NHL decisions. But, it’s the coaches’ decision, so just have to wait for it,” Vaakanainen said after Saturday’s preseason finale against the Flyers.
The 19-year-old Vaakanainen skated in Monday’s practice to the left of Kevan Miller on the Bruins’ third pairing, while John Moore skated in Krug’s place to Brandon Carlo’s left on their second pair.
But while the Bruins have solid even-strength fill-ins for Krug, there’s no doubt that his absence would leave a gaping hole on Boston’s top power-play unit, which has relied heavily on Krug’s movement along the point.
“We’ll have somebody young up there. More likely Vaakanainen, Grzelcyk or Charlie [McAvoy],” Cassidy said of power play one, which scored 43 goals with Krug on the ice a year ago (and with Krug having posted 25 points on the man advantage last season). “There will be a bit of a learning curve there, so we’ll have to probably simplify it; Get it into Pasta’s hands more often. Maybe less movement, more pucks to the net.
“And rely on the [second power-play unit] to pick up some of the slack.”
The 27-year-old Krug, who was the center of offseason trade rumors as the Bruins searched for scoring help, is coming off a year in which he posted a career-high in goals (14), assists (45), and points (59).
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter@_TyAnderson.