The first Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues ended with the ‘Flying Orr‘. The rematch 49 years later saw a Superman-like moment of a different kind.
Torey Krug’s thunderous, helmetless hit on Blues forward Robert Thomas still has his Bruins teammates and all of the hockey world buzzing less than 24 hours after Boston’s 4-2 win in Game 1. The never-ending retweets and likes on social media made Krug’s highlight-reel hit an instant classic.
Torey Krug lights up Robert Thomas. pic.twitter.com/0U3cp1m60T— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 28, 2019
Of course, Krug’s hit wasn’t the only highlight from Game 1. Sean ‘Big Game’ Kuraly’s go-ahead goal and the Bruins’ come-from-behind victory to kick start the series provided plenty of headlines for the plethora of assembled press covering the series.
But make no mistake: Krug still has people talking over his flying Ultimate Warrior-like shoulder tackle on Thomas. Heck, even a handful of media members still think Krug deserved a charging penalty.
There was plenty to say about the hit in both locker rooms. A handful of Bruins and Blues opined over the moment, including Brad Marchand — Krug’s friendly Twitter rival.
“There’s a lot of plays that people look back on in the playoffs that are talked about of all time, and that will be one of them,” the 5-foot-9 Marchand said following Tuesday’s practice at TD Garden. “It’s not often that you see a guy throw a hit like that without a helmet on, especially a small person like that.”
The Bruins admittedly had goosebumps over the Krug hit, coming in the aftermath of his exchange with David Perron. The Blues didn’t quite appreciate being on the receiving end of another Stanley Cup moment with the Bruins.
Goalie Jordan Binnington discussed Krug’s look after the hit. That quote exemplified the Blues’ mindset of the moment to a ‘T’.
Here's Torey Krug and his big pupils staring at Jordan Binnington. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/4V1I7XxBkk— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) May 28, 2019
“It was more of a stare. His pupils were pretty big,” Binnington said. “I don’t know if he’s on something, but he was pretty fired up.”
The 17,565 in attendance collectively lit up the joint with one of the loudest roars of Boston’s postseason run. They sustained that jubilation into the final TV timeout moments later, giving the Bruins an extra jolt with the team holding on to a 3-2 lead midway through the third period. Marchand eventually sealed the victory with an empty netter.
“It was just a perfect moment,” Krug said. “A lot of things lined up for me.”
But is it surprising? Well, not according to Krug’s coach Bruce Cassidy. He’s seen a physical side from the Michigan State alum throughout the postseason.
Krug developed his game from an offensive-minded blue-liner into a more well-rounded, three-zone player since arriving in Boston. That professional hockey evolution translated into his shining moment.
“He’s had a real good playoff in terms of [physicality],” Cassidy said. “People know he’s a puck mover and people know [he has] a power play acumen. But he’s played heavy minutes every night. I appreciate that, and I know his teammates appreciate that in his overall game. I know he’s always wanted to do that and these playoffs have allowed him to get out of that label as an offensive defenseman, and he’s been good for us night in and night out.”
“He’s always been a physical guy,” Cassidy added. “I’ve seen him drop the gloves. It doesn’t always present itself, but this time it did.”
Krug shut the door on avenging his altercation with Perron. He opened a door for bigger and better things moments later with his highlight-reel hit on Thomas — one that might not happen again with a specific helmet rule change in effect for next season — that already has a place in Stanley Cup lore.