The Boston Bruins embarked on a roller coaster ride over the previous 10 games. They developed some pivotal team-bonding moments in Lake Tahoe against the Philadelphia Flyers and after Tom Wilson’s cheap shot on Brandon Carlo against the Washington Capitals. For every smooth turn, though, they later encountered some bumpy loops, as seen with their recent pair of frustrating losses to the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad put forth some building blocks during the 2-1 shootout loss in Long Island on Tuesday night. Yet their recent goal-scoring issues prompted a blunt statement from Don Sweeney the very next day.
Boston’s general manager shook things up by recalling Zach Senyshyn from Providence for Thursday’s contest with the New York Rangers. The Bruins took that message to heart with a stellar performance against the Blueshirts at TD Garden.
Brad Marchand sparked the Bruins with a trio of assists, including a highlight-reel helper on Patrice Bergeon’s first-period shorthanded tally. David Pastrnak opened the scoring with a blast from the point. The second line had one of their better outings of the season highlighted by David Krejci’s first goal of the season and a returning Jake DeBrusk’s second marker of 2021 — both coming in the middle stanza.
From top to bottom, Cassidy’s squad promptly took care of business resulting in their fourth win of the season over the Rangers. Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 4-0 triumph at TD Garden.
A ‘pissed off’ DeBrusk responds to benching
DeBrusk reached one of the lowest points of his four-year career after watching Tuesday’s game against the Islanders. Citing effort, Cassidy delivered a blunt message to the 2015 first-round selection having him view the 2-1 shootout loss from the Nassau Coliseum stands.
The Edmonton-born winger read the news clippings. He heard a disgruntled fan base suggesting the Bruins should trade him.
DeBrusk, sporting a new haircut and hockey stick, turned the outside noise into a positive. He found the back of the net for the second time this season for his first regular-season 5v5 tally since 2020.
“It’s my job to be the best I can be, and I’m a pretty easy target at the moment,” DeBrusk said postgame. “I understand the territory. It’s pretty much warranted; I get that, but yeah, I took it personally for sure. Anytime you get scratched, it stings, so…I was pretty beyond frustrated already. It was a nice little reset for me because I knew I was going to come in with some heat today.”
With a target on his back, DeBrusk played with an edge, engaging in one-one battles and showcasing an aggressive puck pursuit in the open ice and along the walls.
“He was better on the walls for sure. He was trying to impact the game on the forecheck, a little second effort on the goal-line to keep some pucks alive in O-zone play,” Cassidy said of DeBrusk. “I like what I saw tonight. I’m happy that he scored — he and Krech [Kerjci] both. They’ve been a little bit snakebit, so it should be good for their confidence.”
DeBrusk regained his confidence following previous instances of benchings and demotions. Case in point, his rookie year where he turned an early-November healthy scratch tallying six points in five games before Thanksgiving.
With a chip on his shoulder, DeBrusk turned in his best outing of the season. And he doesn’t plan on removing that chip anytime soon.
“It’s still there in the sense that I need to bring that [effort] consistently,” DeBrusk said. “The reason why I played that way tonight is because I was pissed off. I think I need to keep that [mindset]. You know, the game is done. It’s all happy, and it’s a different narrative now because I scored. But I’m keeping that. That’s not going away.”
Senyshyn impresses in his season debut
Thursday marked the first time where Boston’s first-round trio of Senyshyn, DeBrusk and Jakub Zboril played together in an NHL game. Following Senyshyn’s season debut, it won’t be the last time these three enter Cassidy’s lineup at the same time.
After a few years of frustration at the AHL level, Senyshyn finally found consistency with an early-season roll with the P-Bruins. His speed and skillset resulted in nine points (five goals, four assists) in Providence’s first 11 games.
With the ‘A’ team hoping for a spark from anyone, Cassidy inserted Senyshyn into fourth-line duty with Sean Kuraly and Jack Studnicka. Boston’s fifth-year bench boss wanted Senyshyn to bring his speed and assertiveness from Providence to the big club. The Ottawa native didn’t hesitate to bring those skillsets to the table, firing three shots on net — second-most among all Bruins forwards — in 11:46 of ice time.
With keen positioning and an aggressive attacking rhythm in all three zones, Senyshyn created scoring chances for himself and his fellow linemates. He didn’t light the lamp, but he made his effort worthwhile in Boston’s well-rounded performance.
“He made some really good decisions with the puck on the attack,” Cassidy said regarding Senyshyn. “I thought he battled well on the walls, got pucks out when he was supposed to…I certainly thought he impacted the game with his footspeed offensively, and he didn’t hurt us at all defensively.”
The Bruins returned to their character ways
Every team no matter the success will find itself in a rut during a long season. Over the years, the Bruins dug themselves out of holes thanks to their stellar leadership in the locker room.
At times where the Bruins didn’t perform as well this year, they still managed to dig deep with thrilling come from behind theatrics. In other instances, they find themselves in a deeper hole be it with self-inflicted wounds (like Sunday’s loss to the Devils) or running into a hot team (as seen Tuesday against the East Division-leading Islanders.
The Bruins, still dealing with several injuries to core contributors, including Brandon Carlo, aren’t out of this hole yet. As they’ve transitioned players in and out of the lineup, the B’s haven’t strung together consecutive wins since the Islanders snapped their five-game win streak — and 10-game point run — on Feb. 13. Yet, Cassidy’s close-knit bunch took the building blocks from Tuesday’s shootout loss to Long Island and turned that into a convincing win against the rebuilding Rangers.
“We’ve always been a team with a lot of character, and that hasn’t changed. That’s one of the biggest things that the organization looks at when they bring guys in the room is that we want guys to compete and who want to win,” Marchand said. “When you have a room full of guys like that, then you’re going to respond. You’re going to bounce back and show that character, and we’ve always done that. And that’s why we’re a good team for a lot of years.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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