Wednesday, 12 December 2018
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Krug injury may open the door for Vaakenainen to get first NHL crack

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins very nearly made it through training camp completely unscathed by injuries, but no such luck as Torey Krug will be out for at least three weeks with a left ankle injury.

Last season also ended early for Krug when he suffered a fractured left ankle in Game 4 of the B’s second round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he had just returned for the final two preseason games for the Black and Gold.

Unfortunately Krug went right back out again in the first period of the B’s preseason finale on Saturday night, and now he’ll be in a walking boot for the next three weeks. It would stand to reason the offensive D-man is going to need some time to get back up to speed after that, so the Bruins could be without their power play quarterback for the next month.

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“Torey sustained a left ankle injury in the final preseason game, so he’ll be in a boot for the next three weeks and then he’ll be reevaluated,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney of his prolific offensive blueliner, who has put up 110 points over the last two seasons. “It’s the same foot, an ankle, but not related to the previous injury.

“We’ve already had an injury with Krug, and Vaakanainen has had a good camp. So maybe he gets a shot depending on if [Grzelcyk] is ready.”

Clearly the Bruins will miss Krug “in the orchestrating part of [the power play]”, as Bruce Cassidy called it, after mustering just a pair of power play goals during their eight-game preseason schedule.

So what will the Bruins do in the meantime?

With Matt Grzelcyk also still day-to-day with a lower body injury that had him in a no-contact jersey for Monday’s practice, it looks like 19-year-old rookie defenseman Urho Vaakanainen might actually make the team out of training camp. It was initially long odds that Vaakanainen was going to make the cut in his first NHL training camp after playing in Finland the last couple of seasons, but it looks like he now might stick, and even play in Wednesday’s season opener, with the B’s down a couple of left shot defensemen.

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Vaakanainen has been smooth-skating, solid in the defensive zone and surprisingly aggressive looking for his offense given his D-first reputation, but it’s also clearly out of necessity given that the 2017 first rounder needs to build more strength and grittiness in the D-zone as well.

“He hasn’t played an NHL game yet, so there will be some challenges associated with that. You go through camp and there’s an obvious progression, but he’s played against pros for the last two years in the Elite League in Finland,” said Sweeney. “He played in all situations and played lots of minutes, and they really didn’t have to do anything to protect him. We tracked that pretty carefully last year knowing that he could make the jump.

“He’s got poise and patience, and he’s a great skater that covers a lot of ice. He’s got to continue to get stronger and understand the physicality that he’s going to face if and when he plays. Has he passed other players? Well, he’s performed better than some other players and those players have had injuries during that time period as well. So the jockeying begins as it does at every position. He’s made the most of the opportunity he’s been given, so good for him.”

Steve Kampfer is also still in Bruins training camp and could factor into any open spot due to the injuries to both Krug and Grzelcyk. So it’s clearly a good thing the Bruins beefed up their defensemen depth and the signing of John Moore to a five-year contract is already beginning to pay dividends with Krug once again banged up for the Black and Gold. 

  • Watch Bruins vs Capitals at 7:30pm Wednesday on NBCSN Wednesday Night Hockey

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Source: https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/bruins/krug-injury-may-open-door-vaakenainen-get-first-nhl-crack

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