SAN JOSE, Calif. — To state the obvious, healthy scratches don’t sit well with hockey players.
There are two ways a player can go about it. One is feeling sorry for yourself and having it affect you on the ice and in your head. The other is to learn a thing or two while watching in the press box and refocusing your attention to those lessons upon returning to the ice.
For Jake DeBrusk, the latter has been the case.
“I learned there was a lot of things that I need to improve, and that there’s a lot of things I can do to help the team,” DeBrusk said prior to returning to the lineup Wednesday night in Anaheim. “It’s not one thing that you can necessarily learn up there in the press box, but there’s a lot – and you learn about yourself as well. Overall I would say it’s a combo of things [I learned] and I’m learning to implement them tonight.”
DeBrusk, indeed, learned a few things and implemented those teaching points throughout the Bruins’ three-game California swing.
“It’s one of those things where a young player going through [that rough stretch] I wanted to react,” DeBrusk said during his postgame media session on Saturday at the SAP Center. “You know, statistics wise or whatever wise, I think my game has come a long way since that last game in Toronto [before being scratched].”
Against the Kings and Ducks, he was engaged and assertive to the situation at hand. On Saturday, a week removed from watching his first NHL game on Level 9 at TD Garden, DeBrusk was one of the few rookies – along with Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen – who provided a spark against the Sharks. His goal and assist in the first period of the B’s 3-1 victory were results of finding open space and creating a couple of breakaway chances – capitalizing on one and while also factoring into Cehlarik’s first career goal after video review for goaltender interference.
In both instances, the first two goals were results of DeBrusk going hard to the net, something that is preached in all levels of hockey.
“He tracked down a puck and buried it,” Cassidy said about DeBrusk’s two-point night. “He split the D with a nice individual move, that’s not going to work every night, but he stayed with the battle and he’s willing to go in there and expose himself to big men and attack the net. So, he made a play to Cehlarik late in the game too to extend the lead. So, he’s feeling it again. That’s what young guys are. He’s lost it for a bit and that’s up to the staff to help him feel good about his game, but it’s up to the individual as well.”
Yet another lesson that DeBrusk has learned.
The second of the three 2015 first round selections, DeBrusk’s well aware of the peaks and valleys in professional hockey. He learned a little of that in his first year of professional hockey down in Providence last year.
DeBrusk knows it won’t always be smooth sailing during the course of the 82-game season. The one constant is his eagerness to learn and improve.
“I’ve got lots of areas to improve,” DeBrusk said about his focus. “I’ve been getting bumped off the puck a little more than I would like, but it’s something that I’ve been working on. But overall, I think it’s been going well and it always helps when you win.”