BOSTON — Playoff legends arrive in all sizes and shapes and this one has rolled off the assembly line from Michigan via Providence at 5 feet 9 — maybe — and 180 pounds.
Torey Krug seems as wide as he is tall, like a Chevy Tahoe LTZ or some stout American sports utility vehicle. Kevin Paul Dupont, the esteemed hockey writer from the Boston Globe, compared the rookie Bruins defenseman on Twitter to former Ranger Reijo "Rexy" Ruotsalainen and former Whaler Risto Siltanen. Yeah, we giggled about ol' Risto on the elevator down to the TD Garden locker rooms after the Bruins had eliminated the Rangers in five games with a 3-1 triumph Saturday night.
Hockey fans get the picture on Krug, Boston's newest folk hero, a little tank with a laser shot. And that one-timer from the point that beat Henrik Lundqvist on the power play midway through the second period for Boston's first goal and his fourth in five playoff games? Wow.
"I had just hopped on the ice from the bench and tried to get open and get my shot through," Krug said. "When I take one-timers, I try to make the goalie make a save with his hands."
"This is a great feeling. This is a great experience."
Krug, 22, spent the season with the P-Bruins in the AHL, visited the XL Center during the winter to play the Whale with absolutely no fanfare. Yet all during that time, a couple of things were becoming clearer. This guy has a wonderful knack for finding the shooting seams, threading a puck through a maze of skates, sticks and shot-blocking bodies.
He also has a wonderful knack for getting rid of that laser shot in a hurry. And that, along with his squat size, draws the Rexy and Risto comparisons.
Who would have figured by the time the teams had gone through the traditional conga line of handshakes that Krug not only would have more goals in this series than any of his teammates, but twice as many as any of the Rangers?
Who would have figured that he'd have more power-play goals [three] in the series than the entire Rangers team? [OK, you might have guessed that.]
Who would have figured that Brad Richards, the Rangers' $60 million man, would be sitting in the press box, a scratched man, and Bruins fans would be chanting that long, "Kruuuuuuug!" every time he touched the puck? You would have thought ol' Loooooooo Merloni had made the ride up from Pawtucket and come to the plate at Fenway.
Yep, the Stanley Cup playoffs can be a long, strange trip.
The Bruins' fourth line, the heroes of Game 3, struck twice more in this clincher that sent the Bruins into the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins. At 13:49 of the second period, after a bad giveaway by Roman Hamrlik, Daniel Paille tried to slide a pass to Shawn Thornton on a rush to the net. The play didn't connect, but Gregory Campbell followed the carom off Thornton and stuck it past Lundqvist. With Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker, Campbell then swept a 50-foot backhander into the empty net with 50.4 seconds left to finish off the Rangers.
"Our game is pretty straightforward, not pretty," Campbell said of his line.
"It seems like we keep surprising you," Thornton said. "I think we've proven we can actually play."
The Rangers actually had taken a 1-0 lead in the first period when Dan Girardi drove a slap shot from the blue line through a huge sun-blocking screen by Brian Boyle in front of Tuukka Rask for, yes, a power-play goal. Although he eventually got thrown to the ice like a rag doll, Derek Dorsett, surrendering more than 20 pounds, was a willing combatant with Thornton. Dorsett also bounced back from a wicked hit by Milan Lucic. The Rangers showed some spunk, some early give and take.
Lundqvist looked airtight, his best save on a wondrous glove stab on Lucic's slapper from the slot.
That's when Krug hit. According to Elias, he is the first rookie defenseman in the post-expansion era to score four goals in his first five postseason games. A couple of weeks ago, he was battling Wilkes Barre-Scranton, the Penguins farm team. Now, he's battling the Penguins and Sidney Crosby.
His confidence level?
"It's pretty high," he answered.
It should be.