The Boston Bruins are off to a hot start to their 2019-20 campaign. Bruce Cassidy’s squad, now at 6-1-2 on the year following Tuesday’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, sits three points behind the Atlantic Division-leading Buffalo Sabres.
Staistically speaking, Jake DeBrusk hasn’t had that hot of a start.
The 23-year-old high-flying winger came into the season with high hopes after notching a career-high 27 goals last season. Yet, a series of unfortunate replay reversals, poor puck luck and makeshift lineups haven’t helped DeBrusk during the first month of the season.
“It obviously helps when the team is winning when your personal stats aren’t there,” DeBrusk told Bruins Daily following Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “When you lose it’s more of an emphasis, especially when our team has always been – as long as I’ve been here – about secondary scoring.”
DeBrusk has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a minus-3 rating through nine games. But the third-year forward found other ways to contribute beyond the scoresheet.
His assertiveness helped him light the lamp in Toronto for his first goal of the season on Saturday night. DeBrusk followed that up with a solid effort in the second half of the home and home where he had a good pep in his step all night long.
“Personally I don’t have great starts statistically,” DeBrusk said. “It’s about wins right now so if I can help produce in the wins that’s the best-case scenario.”
David Krejci’s absence put the second line in a tough spot. But the makeshift trio of DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie set the tone with a strong forecheck while also emphasizing the simple things that don’t show up on the daily box scores.
Case in point: last Thursday night where DeBrusk’s tremendous backcheck denied the Tampa Bay Lightning a golden 2-on-1 opportunity during the 3-on-3 overtime session.
DeBrusk’s discipline in his own end and his puck protection in the attacking end finally paid off. The Edmonton native, along with Ritchie, gave the Bruins some much needed secondary scoring during Boston’s home-and-home with Toronto.
“I thought that the last two games – I guess our most recent games – our five on five play was personally where it needed to be,” DeBrusk said about the recent performances from his line.
“I could have five [points] technically but I have to let that go so I’m not necessarily too worried about it. I’m starting to get some bounces. Even last game I tried to hit Charlie [Coyle] backdoor and it goes off a skate. The first eight games that was probably going down the other way for a breakaway and then the next thing you know it’s in the back of the enemies net.”
Yet, through all the early season struggles statistically, DeBrusk’s power-play presence gives the lethal top PP unit a strong net-front presence. His retrieval of pucks behind the net and wherewithal to look for rebounds or tip-ins provide compliment the likes of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Torey Krug with each and every power-play attempt.
“I definitely have confidence we are going to score every time we are out there. If you don’t then you are probably thinking wrong,” DeBrusk said about the top-ranked Boston power play (clicking at a 35.7 percent success rate). “My job is to bury a tap in if I can put one in then great. Pretty much that and recover pucks. So I know I have to be hungry in there because I know if I can get a puck, second chance, or third chance we probably have a higher chance of scoring.”
The Bruins found secondary scoring from DeBrusk, Ritchie and others against Toronto. But the Bruins could use more consistency from DeBrusk, at least on the scoresheet.
At the very least, DeBrusk is finding ways to solidify his game beyond the stat lines. He’ll be lighting the lamp again in no time if this keeps up.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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