ST. LOUIS — Torey Krug has been down this road before.
Having played with the Boston Bruins the past nine seasons, the 5-foot-8 defenseman has been used to looking up at defensive partners, and regularly jokes about it.
Krug played with 6-foot-9 giant Zdeno Chara and was even a partner with the 6-5 Brandon Carlo. So now that he's paired with the 6-6 gentle giant Colton Parayko, comparisons of David and Goliath come to mind.
So if the worst thing that comes to mind when seeing Krug and Parayko on the ice is the size difference, the Livonia, Mich. native can live with that while raving about his partner's play.
"I actually played with Carlo last year, very similar size," Krug said laughing. "Parayko obviously takes up a lot of ice, very quick to close in the corners, turns over a lot of pucks from the defensive side and he can move it up on the offensive side, he skates so well. I hope I get to play with him and use a lot of his strengths to our advantage and get going the other way."
"I don't know what his official size is," Parayko said. "We have a couple other small guys too, but I don't know who else would be his size. He's not the tallest guy, I guess."
Krug got a leg up on the work needed to be put in and didn't want to waste any time getting to St. Louis to get acclimated with his new teammates.
The 29-year-old Krug, who signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract Oct. 9 as an unrestricted free agent, where he had 337 points (67 goals, 270 assists) in 523 regular-season games, recognized that this season would be a bigger challenge with a shortened 56-game regular-season schedule and abbreviated training camp. So he got in to St. Louis in early December and he could integrate himself into a new system and be ready for the season opener Jan. 13 against the Colorado Avalanche.
"It's a different challenge, for sure, from a personal standpoint," Krug said. "I pretty much could have done a training camp in Boston blindfolded. Now I've got to come in here and learn a few staples of the drills that we're going to be doing all year long and also get integrated into the system. The chemistry on the ice will come. I want to get to a point where I don't have to think about what the systems are to a game. I could just go out there and play. Just trying to learn and play and obviously communicate frequently and learn everything. I came in here early specifically, that was by design so I could build some chemistry on the ice with these guys and get used to them and get used to the locker room."
Craig Berube started camp by putting Krug with Parayko, which will likely be St. Louis' top defensive pairing. The Blues' coach sees a likeable pair.
"They both skate really well," Berube said. "You've got Krug, who's a real good puck mover and then you've got Parayko who defends as well as any defenseman in the National Hockey League. I just think they'll kill a lot of plays with their feet and honestly, they can be dangerous the other way in the offensive zone. Having those two guys, they both can shoot the puck a ton. I just think there's going to be some good opportunities for them to do stuff offensively, but I think also defensively they're going to kill a lot of plays with their feet."
Parayko will have a greater role and becomes the top right-handed defenseman since the departure of Alex Pietrangelo, who signed a seven-year, $61.6 million contract Oct. 10 with the Vegas Golden Knights. Judging by the minute the two played in the team's first scrimmage Wednesday, could be a sign of just how much they'll be on the ice, specifically Parayko.
"It doesn't change anything from my perspective," Parayko said. "Just come to the rink and do my job, do my best I can to improve, help the team improve and get better and obviously win hockey games this year. Just continue to come and make this team better hopefully."
So far, the Krug-Parayko pair has worked well. The communication seems to be there and the cohesion seems to be on par.
"So far it's been great," Parayko said. "Right from the time I met him and since camp started, we've brought it well, we've been over a lot of different things in terms of hockey-wise and different reads. Obviously each player reads different scenarios a little differently. Coming from different teams, they have different systems and what not. It's just kind of getting used to each other, but even just right from the start, we've been doing a good job of reading off of each other (and) reading the plays. It's been good. I'm excited to play with him. He's a great player. You can tell just from being on the ice with him right from the get-go and obviously playing against him. It's just a little different when you get to play with him. I'm excited and it's obviously going to be great.
"He gets in there quick (defensively). He's gritty and he's tough to play against. He's always in there with his stick and just from talking to him and from reads, it's been great. Just from talking to him, from reads, it's been great in the sense that we have a lot of things that we like to do in the same sense or we like to do a lot of the same things in the d-zone. From that perspective, it's going to be great. We're going to excel in the d-zone and make good reads off each other and go from there."