SEATTLE — Jake DeBrusk made the most of his opportunity in his first top-line assignment of the season with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Then, he faced the media for the first time since his trade request became public.
Ironically enough, DeBrusk scored both of his markers without Bergeron and Marchand flanking him. But his 10th and 11th goals of the season came in pivotal moments during the Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the Kraken Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena.
DeBrusk’s first tally of the evening came on the heels of Boston’s fifth failed power play attempt of the opening 20. During the tail end of his shift on Boston’s secondary man-advantage unit, DeBrusk received a fortunate bounce from former teammate Jeremy Lauzon and banked home a loose puck behind Philipp Grubauer to even things up at 1-1.
Then came the game-winner a mere 33 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime. An opportunistic DeBrusk used his speed to get past a Seattle defender and beat Grubauer short-side for the walk-off tally.
“He had his legs tonight, and he was hard on pucks,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of DeBrusk. “Ironically, both goals he scored he wasn’t on the ice with Bergy [Bergeron] and Marsh [Marchand], but I thought they were a good line for us. They didn’t get on the scoresheet [in 5v5], but they generated a lot [of scoring chances].”
DeBrusk took center stage in the B’s first-ever trip to the Emerald City on Thursday. Here’s what we learned from all the events surrounding DeBrusk during Boston’s OT triumph over Seattle.
DeBrusk “pleads the fifth” on trade request
To no surprise, DeBrusk wanted to focus on his recent hot stretch and his promotion to the top line. But he also had to address the elephant in the room in his first media availability since his trade request became public.
The 2015 first-round selection didn’t want to become a distraction during this awkward situation. DeBrusk hele to that sentiment after upping his stock again with Thursday’s effort.
“To be honest, I told the guys in the room when the news first kind of hit and the news got out there, I told them I didn’t want to be a distraction. So I respectfully plead the fifth on all of those,” DeBrusk said in his first comments since the request. “I want to talk about the game and stuff. Obviously, I haven’t talked [to the media] in a while. It’s a fair question, but I won’t be answering that.”
A follow-up question ensued on whether or not the recent promotion with Bergeron and Marchand would sway DeBrusk one way or the other. DeBrusk didn’t budge with his stance and again “pled the fifth.”
Amid an uneasy time for the player and the organization, DeBrusk never became a distraction.
DeBrusk’s teammates went to bat, supporting him both publicly and privately. He remains thankful for that. And he’ll always have a special place for Boston if and when his career takes him elsewhere.
“It means respect, right?” DeBrusk said. “It means that they think I’m a good guy and a good teammate, and that’s all you really want to be at the end of the day. You play in that room for all of those guys. Obviously, there’s lots of memories with playoff runs, and I’ve grown up in this organization. That’s kind of what I said to them, too, is I’ll try to keep that the same. There are going to be some down days and up days. But to hear them say that is obviously really nice. It kind of amplifies how close we are as a group. I’ve always said how much of a close-knit group we’ve had, and I’ve always been very blessed with that.”
Indeed, DeBrusk helped the Bruins win another hockey game despite his looming situation.
DeBrusk’s provides promising initial results with Bergeron and a returning Marchand
Even during tense times, Bruce Cassidy always had one message for DeBrusk: help the team in any way possible.
At times, DeBrusk’s effort came into question after playing primarily on his off-wing during the worst season of his career in the 2021 pandemic-shortened season. His start to the 2021-22 campaign trended toward a similar fate before his trade request.
Perhaps the situation allowed DeBrusk to showcase a sense of urgency. He became more aggressive, pursuing pucks along the walls. He used his speed to create scoring chances for himself no matter his assignment. Most of all, he’s displayed an assertive approach away from the puck ever since his last healthy scratch on Nov. 28.
DeBrusk’s effort since convinced the coaching staff to move him up to a top-line role upon Marchand’s return from a six-game suspension. After a discussion with Cassidy, he was eager for the opportunity, even if it meant moving to his off-wing.
The Marchand-Bergeron-DeBrusk trio garnered numerous quality scoring chances, garnering a 16-8 edge in 5v5 scoring chances. DeBrusk’s speed and backchecking complimented the potent Bergeron-Marchand duo to a T.
“It’s a great honor to play with two [potential] Hall of Famers,” DeBrusk said. “I just wanted to try to get on pucks and try to win some races on the forecheck and take away the goalies’ eyes. Honestly, I just wanted to simplify my game. I’ve gotten some puck luck the last little bit. It’s been trending in the right direction, so I was really excited.”
Amid a struggling power play and a pair of costly line changes resulting in Seattle’s pair of markers — a shorthanded breakaway tally from Mark Giordano in the first 20 and a Jordan Eberle second-period equalizer on a 3-on-1 rush — the top line’s consistency helped the Bruins weather the proverbial storm.
Indeed, DeBrusk ran in his first chance in the most significant opportunity of his five-year run in Boston.
“JD has done a great job the last couple of weeks and has elevated his game. He’s scored a couple of big goals for us as well,” goalie Linus Ullmark (25 saves) said of DeBrusk. “It’s nice when someone gets the opportunity that they take it and run away with it.”
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