Certain supporters of the Boston Bruins couldn’t wait to say goodbye to Jake DeBrusk once his trade request became public. That time could still arrive between now and the March 21 trade deadline.
But amid a precarious position for team and player, the Bruins couldn’t have asked for much more out of DeBrusk.
As DeBrusk’s roller-coaster tenure continues, Bruce Cassidy and Boston’s coaching staff witnessed their 2015 first-round selection deliver timely secondary scoring over the last two games. He thrived amidst moving parts within the third line against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and during his brief time replacing Brad Marchand on the top trio during last Thursday’s thrilling 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals.
With his aggressive puck pursuit and assertive play without the rubber biscuit on his stick, DeBrusk slowly found his groove again upon returning from COVID protocol. It all accumulated over the last two games to the tune of three timely points.
DeBrusk received a little bit of puck luck as well with his third-period tally against the Capitals. He earned that bounce after failing to convert on numerous quality scoring chances over the last few games.
But DeBrusk didn’t need any help from the hockey gods shortly after giving his team a 3-2 lead after finding a streaking Charlie McAvoy in the slot with 45 ticks left to put the B’s ahead for good against Alex Ovechkin and company.
“I like when Jake’s physical and he’s moving his feet,” Marchand said of DeBrusk. “That’s where he excels — when he uses his speed. He’s such a dynamic player. I think at times; he doesn’t realize what he can create just by skating, moving his feet and getting in on the forecheck. He doesn’t always have to be overly physical. But his speed will create turnovers, opportunities for his teammates and for himself. When he’s skating, he’s a very dangerous player.”
Consistency became an elusive trait during DeBrusk’s time in Boston. He hit a wall on numerous occasions after showcasing glimpses of brilliance. The long stretches of inconsistent effort forced Cassidy’s hand with DeBrusk over his five years, where their relationship became fractured following numerous healthy scratches.
The Bruins still benefit from DeBrusk’s speedy presence even with his uncertain future. He’s done everything asked of him of late, creating scoring opportunities for himself and whoever he skates with, all while not shying away from engaging in tough, physical puck battles.
On Saturday, a couple of days removed from his stellar two-point third period, DeBrusk picked up where he left off following further uncertainty. It didn’t involve trade chatter, but rather DeBrusk’s assignment for the weekend matinee.
With Marchand’s surprising appearance following an unnecessary late hit by Washington defenseman Garnet Hathaway, DeBrusk went back to the third line with Charlie Coyle and a returning Oskar Steen (a healthy scratch against the Caps) against Winnipeg. Boston’s third trio carried the offensive load in the 3-2 triumph.
DeBrusk notched a secondary assist on Steen’s opening stanza equalizer after chipping the puck to Coyle in the slot. Winnipeg defenseman Josh Morrisey blocked Coyle’s shot attempt, but Steen pounced and quickly fired home his second career NHL marker.
The Edmonton-born winger only fired one shot at Connor Hellybuyck. Yet he created numerous scoring chances for himself, Coyle and Steen. More importantly, he helped the Bruins win another hockey game.
“He has his legs, which helps because that’s his greatest attribute,” Cassidy said. “He can outskate a lot of people out there. When he’s on top of people, it makes a difference. When he gets pucks in loose ice, he backs people off, challenges people and puts people under duress. That’s what we like about Jake. Compete on the puck. I’ve said that from day one. We want it every night. We’re getting it.”
DeBrusk hasn’t spoken to the media since his public trade request. His teammates are more than happy to praise his work ethic during this awkward period. He’s hardly been a distraction. His attitude, performance and rising trade value have spoken for itself during the last couple of months.
“I think it speaks a lot to his mindset and wanting to contribute help,” Nick Foligno, a frequent linemate of DeBrusk this season said. “After everything that was said about him earlier, he’s shown that he’s committed here as long as he’s here.”
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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