They are the youth gone wild
It was just one taste but for Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk, they had one helluva opening act in their regular season debut.
The highly touted trio of youngsters earned their rightful spots in marquee roles out of training camp. On opening night against the Nashville Predators, the trio would have bigger responsibilities on top of their marquee assignments thanks to injuries to Patrice Bergeron (day-to-day, lower body), David Backes (out 3-4 weeks with diverticulitis) and Torey Krug (day-to-day, jaw).
They aced every challenge thrown at them. Each tallied their first NHL regular season point with DeBrusk and McAvoy both tallying a goal and an assist in the B’s 4-3 win over the Predators at TD Garden.
“They really showed what they can do out there,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves for his fifth career opening night victory. “They played a very entertaining game. You know, a lot of turnovers, a lot of speed and a lot of chances and the guys showed that there’s some skill on this team.”
“Yeah, we were pleased. They all had good moments and good learning moments throughout the game that we expected, but they stayed with it, they’re good players and helped us win a hockey game,” Cassidy said postgame about DeBrusk, McAvoy and Bjork. “Obviously that’s what they’re there for. They were put in good positions to do that, and I thought our veteran guys pulled them along well, but they’re good players and they did their part. So, we were very pleased with them.”
Cassidy’s preference of an up-tempo style of play fits the McAvoy’s, Bjork’s and DeBrusk’s of the world. They had no problems getting acclimated to that style of play.
Particularly on the tallies from DeBrusk and McAvoy. Those second period goals came as a result of DeBrusk gaining speed taking a feed from David Krejci (three assists) and slicing through the Preds defense and McAvoy pinching in and finding space while inadvertently stealing a one-time attempt from Bjork.
“I think both [McAvoy and DeBrusk] played really well,” said Bjork, who tallied the secondary assist on DeBrusk’s first career goal. “They play with pace, which is something that coach is trying to do, and it was really cool to see and cool to have those guys alongside me.”
From the coaches and fellow teammates to the 17,565 in attendance on Causeway Street, DeBrusk, McAvoy and Bjork kept everyone on their feet.
One guy in particular, though, had the best reaction. That would be former NHLer Louie DeBrusk following his son’s first career goal.
“He’s known as a tough guy,” DeBrusk said about his father, “but I heard there were some tears coming from him.”
“You know, it’s a very emotional time,” DeBrusk added about his dad’s reaction, “but I’ll be tripping him for a couple of years to come, that’s for sure.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Some of the lines were moved around after Noel Acciari’s upper-body injury in the second period – and in the third, especially with the Predators making a late push with two late power play goals in a 1:13 span.
Adding another injury to the aforementioned core of Krug, Bergeron and Backes, along with the Preds late push, could’ve put any team in a tough spot.. That development never phased the calm, cool and collected group of the guys in the locker room.
“There wasn’t any talk in terms of ‘poor me and poor us,'” McAvoy said about the team’s mindset going into Thursday night. “We knew we were going to go out there with our lineup, and you know we felt confident that we could win.”
Confidence can be contagious, especially when it comes from the fountain of youth.