Bad timing always seems to befall teams, especially during the most important part of the season. For the Bruins, it’s something that they’ve become somewhat experts on. With their roster being filled with many first-year guys, you knew that this team would be going through some growing pains. As the team would experience one injury after another, it seemed Boston couldn’t catch a break.
The Bruins not only had those nagging injuries to deal with. On top of this, they were trying to find their style and voice on the ice. Early on there was a concern about whether or not this team would ever bounce back. But as they say, you gotta keep the faith, because things have a way of turning around. One trip out west would change the course for the Black and Gold. Something special was happening. The Bruins (now healthy) started to win, play gritty and are on pace to being in the playoffs. The biggest thing about this team that has been discussed so many times is the surge of the young players. One, in particular, is starting to make not only important plays but scoring the winning goals- Jake DeBrusk.
A GOOD START
A second-generation NHL player, DeBrusk quickly made noise early on after he was signed to an entry-level contract back in 2015. He was assigned to Providence after two seasons in the WHL and posted 49 points with 19 goals and 30 assists. In the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, Debrusk scored six goals and finished with nine points. Some impressive numbers led to DeBrusk earning a spot in the Bruins training camp. As one of the young stars many were talking about prior to this season, DeBrusk would score his first NHL goal against the Nashville Predators. He would be one of many rookies that would score their first goals- a precursor of what was to come out of this Bruins team.
FINDING HIS PLACE
By mid-season, the Bruins have found themselves on an upswing and after a trip out west. Consequently, the team started to develop one of the most important things it needed: chemistry. After a few mediocre seasons that was still playing under an old Julien system of dump and chase, the youth movement was just beginning to bubble. A new coach in Bruce Cassidy, a bunch of young hot studs mixed in some wise veterans and you have the perfect concoction of what it takes to be competitive. Ever tweaking his lines, Cassidy placed DeBrusk alongside David Krejci and Ryan Spooner (prior to the trade). The young 19 year old found himself playing in the regular lineup averaging around 15 minutes on the ice every night.
BY THE NUMBERS
A quick look at Debrusk’s stats shows that the young winger isn’t afraid to get involved and help his teammates. There have been instances where DeBrusk had a tough game and was subsequently benched for a few shifts. Since his debut on October 5, 2017, DeBrusk has averaged seven or more assists each month. He currently ranks fifth behind Torey Krug with 39 points. And as the Krejci line is proving to be a powerhouse with the addition of forward Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk is there, setting up some nifty plays.
It can be hard being a young player among the big boys in the league. Sometimes when you hit a rough patch, it’s time for a quick reset. For someone like Jake DeBrusk, he’s learning to take some needed criticism. Recently, Coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t too happy with how his young winger was playing and sat him the next few shifts.
Some players don’t respond well to taking some time out. Others like DeBrusk take it and become better. And he did. DeBrusk came out off the bench to tie a recent game against Montreal. He also drove to the net and was there when Brad Marchand scored the OT winning goal. Five shots total that game, and the Bruins swept the Montreal Canadiens. As he put it:
“You don’t want to miss shifts with anyone… But at the same time, I understood why and I was eager to get back out there and try to help the team win.”
At the midseason mark where the Bruins started to turn things around, it was DeBrusk again that put some much-needed effort. After being a healthy scratch in a game against Toronto, (again some tough love from Cassidy) the winger would respond with two goals and four assists in his next five games. Sometimes all you need is a little reminding that you need to get the puck more.
In the NHL business, you got to play your best players and for someone young like Jake DeBrusk, you have to earn your stripes to be in the lineup. There’s no doubt that this kid can play, and it’s hard to remember that he’s only 19 years old. In a recent back to back game against the Chicago Blackhawks, DeBrusk connected with his linemates, David Krejci and Rick Nash. He certainly made his mark, being there when Krejci needed him. In a 7-4 win over Chicago, the Czech forward scored two goals, and forward Brian Gionta scored as well. DeBrusk got the assist on those power-play goals:
“…We’re just trying to read off each other and at the same time try to know where we’re going to go..obviously tonight it clicked and hopefully we can build on that.”
With fifteen games left in the regular season, every play, assist and point is crucial. The Bruins have come a long way, exceeding every expectation. With key players out on injury, Boston closed out a perfect home stand series posting a 6-0 record. When most teams start to fray at the seams, the Bruins continue to push through. Every line pulls their weight. For Jake DeBrusk, whose racking up points in his last eight games, he continues to be there for his linemates.
“The whole year I’ve been trying to build… so just trying to keep it going and understand how valuable it is to be out there and who I’m playing with”
Follow Liz Rizzo on Twitter @pastagrl88