EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 20, 2013

Rookies have been part of solution for Bruins

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON — You know that old, humorous radio spot, “Bob from Accountemps,” with some guy sounding like he is feigning the flu and while calling in sick at his office for another day. Then his boss tells him “no problem,” that the guy who replaced him, “Bob from Accountemps” is starring in his absence.

All of sudden, the “sick” guy is feeling much better and is willing to come to work immediately, only to have his boss tell him to get some more rest.

Well, defensemen Wade Redden, Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg, all of whom have been out with various injuries, might want tell the team doctor to up the medication and therapy and get them back on the ice.

Two games into the Eastern Conference semis and Bruins defense — and offense — has never been better and there are two “Bobs,” Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, more than filling the bill on the back end.

One of the healthy Bruins defensemen, Johnny Boychuk, is more than impressed with Krug and Bartkowski, who have combined for six career playoff games.

“They’re not playing good, they’re playing great,” said Boychuk. “They’re the reason ... I mean, they’re one of the reasons we have played so well.”

Krug and Bartkowski were supposed to be the problem against the Rangers. They were supposed to exposed against the likes of Rangers forwards Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan.

While coach Claude Julien gets a big chunk of the blame-pie for the “Jeckyl-Hyde” performances — those are Julien’s words — of his team for most of the season, he apparently has been a source of inspiration for the newbies on defense.

Rather than tell them to “be careful,” which appears to be right up his alley, he apparently took the opposite tack before he played his first playoff game on Thursday night.

“He told me not to be scared,” said Krug, who scored the game’s first goal and assisted on the Bruins second goal. “It was unbelieveable. It was like a (monkey) was off my shoulders ... It was nice to hear. I could just play my game.”

The same goes for Bartkowski, 25, who scored the first goal in the Game 7 win over Toronto while adding an assist on the goal that finished off the Rangers last night only 26 seconds into the third period when Brad Marchand redirected a pass from Patrice Bergeron.

Both have added some spice to the Bruins team, never mind the defense, which has allowed only four goals in two games against the Rangers. Both have no fear in moving the puck from one end of the rink to the other.

It’s a nice wrinkle from Ference, Seidenberg and Redden, all of whom are pass-first defenders from their own zone. Krug and Bartkowski get the puck and like Bobby ... well, they aren’t afraid to skate with it.

“I’m only 5-foot-9,” said the 22-year-old Krug who the Bruins signed last March as an undrafted free agent. “I have to play with the puck if I’m going to play ... It’s as simple as that.”

Krug looks like a forward for a reason. He played the position until he was moved to defense when he played junior hockey, before attending the University of Minnesota.

Krug was tied for fourth in points (13 goals, 32 assists) with the Providence Bruins this season. Bartkowski was no slouch with the puck either, finishing the regular season a respectable 10th on the Baby Bruins with three goals and 21 assists.

“It’s always been a part of my game,” said Krug.

There is another Bruins rookie defenseman logging a regular shift in Dougie Hamilton. While highly regarded Hamilton probably has more talent than the other two rookies, combined, he has been shaky in some key moments. In fact, both Rangers goals followed gaffes by Hamilton.

Julien has an interesting decision to make in the next day or two, with Seidenberg and Redden possibly due back for tomorrow night’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.

Krug and Bartkowski deserve to stay and play. But that doesn’t mean either will.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all,” said Krug, when asked about being relagated to the press box for any games going forward. “I’m here to help the team and do whatever it takes to win. I’m having so much fun. Decisions like that aren’t up to me. I’ll just continue to work hard.”

“Bob from Accountemps” has some distinguished company and the Bruins have two difficult decisions to make.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.