With Calder Trophy candidate Mathew Barzal in town for the first time in his professional career, there’s been a lot of chatter surrounding who is here, and who could have been here.
Going back to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins found themselves with three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round as they owned picks 13, 14 and 15. With those picks, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn. The New York Islanders immediately followed the Bruins selections by drafting Barzal.
As Zboril and Senyshyn begin their professional hockey journey(s) in Providence, DeBrusk is doing everything he can to make an impact and open some eyes. He did both on Saturday night.
After Casey Cizikas sent Charlie McAvoy to the ice with a big hit, DeBrusk stepped up, dropping the gloves with Cizikas. The fight marked DeBrusk’s first of his young career. Two minutes for instigating, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct added up to the first 17 penalty minutes of DeBrusk’s career.
Sitting out for 17 minutes wasn’t fun for DeBrusk, but earning the respect of his teammates was.
“It really showed that he’s a great teammate. You don’t have to be a big guy to drop gloves and stand up for your teammate and he did,” captain Zdeno Chara said.
“Good for him, he showed a lot of character in that act. He did pretty well. Obviously, the toughness is something he has in his family, it’s a great sign of being part of a good team.”
Saturday was DeBrusk’s second game back after an upper-body injury forced him out of the lineup for three games. His fight was a nice way to reintroduce himself.
But the fight wasn’t the only memorable part of DeBrusk’s Saturday night. Returning to the ice in the third period after serving 17 minutes in the box, DeBrusk scored his sixth goal of the season with an impressive spin-o-rama type shot. The goal ended up being the game-winning tally and the icing on the cake in what was an impressive night for DeBrusk.
“Yeah, it was a bit of a different scenario to say the least,” DeBrusk said. “You know, it was something that happened and I honestly didn’t try to get an instigator or anything like that, you know, it was just one of those things you can’t control and I watched the period in here and just felt a little out of sorts and just wanted to get back in action and wanted to make the first shift a good one and was lucky enough to cash in on a goal.”
DeBrusk is no stranger to fighting, it’s in his blood. Jake’s dad Louie spent 11 seasons in the NHL. In those 11 seasons, the senior DeBrusk had 115 fighting majors.
As tough as Louie was on the ice, we all saw his emotional side earlier this year after he was caught crying after Jake’s first NHL goal. It’s safe to say there probably were not too many tears in the DeBrusk household after Jake’s scrap.
“I don’t know; I’ll find out,” DeBrusk said. “I think he’s going to say good job, way to protect yourself, and I don’t think he’ll cry but I think he’ll be happy with this one.”
As the Bruins continue to be led by their top line and continue to get solid depth from their third line, DeBrusk is looking to help anchor his line with David Krejci and Anders Bjork. Whether it was because Barzal was in town, or some other factor, Saturday was a step in the right direction for the young forward.
“I think it was written that there was a certain player drafted ahead of him, so I think he took it upon himself to maybe show that he’s here for a reason, he’s a good player in his own right, and he was pretty excited about it,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said.
“Good for him; he’s a young guy and we like that excitement level out of those young guys.”