Has the time come for Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk to watch a game from the press box? It certainly sounded that way after DeBrusk went scoreless for a third straight game and didn’t play with the tenacity his coach wants from him in an ugly 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
“I don’t know, I’d say everything but I don’t know if that’s fair,” Cassidy replied when asked what’s missing with the chemistry between DeBrusk and center David Krejci. “But right now, they just haven’t connected for whatever reason. I don’t want to put it on one individual or the other. As a line they’re not — I’ve always talked to David, when he’s going he tends to pull people along. Jake’s also, what now, he’s been in the league for 180-some-odd games? Should be able to look after himself too at this point on a nightly basis, and they should be feeding off of one another.”
Cassidy has tried everything to spark the struggling and streaky winger this season. An in-game benching during the December 29 game against the Buffalo Sabres worked as DeBrusk came out in the third period and single-handedly erased a 2-1 deficit scoring two goals to pace the Bruins to a 3-2 win. Since then though, the Bruins winger who is expected to light the lamp on the second line with Krejci has been simply invisible with no goals in his last three games.
After DeBrusk made a lazy cross-ice pass in the Bruins zone that was intercepted by Oiler forward Gaetan Haas and converted into the game-tying goal 7:41 into the second period, DeBrusk was benched again for a 7:16 span of the middle frame and a got a demotion down the depth chart in the third period. It didn’t create the spark this time though as DeBrusk finished the game with no points and one shot in 13:37 TOI. While Cassidy tried hard not to single DeBrusk out, he’s seemingly at a boiling point with the 6’0, 188-pound winger, just couldn’t.
“Anything — just playing the game, attacking,” Cassidy answered bluntly when asked what the “more” was that he wanted from DeBrusk who has eleven goals and nine assists in 38 games. “The other day he drew a penalty by chipping a puck behind a guy. His biggest asset is his foot speed, so he has to use that. Be a little bit more tenacious on pucks, create some of his own shots, to take a basketball term. Doesn’t always need ‘Krech’ [Krejci] to get him the puck; go chase one down or win a foot race. We chipped a lot of pucks today, the puck was bouncing all over. Would have been a good night for it. Find his own shot one-on-one.
Edmonton had a couple of guys do that, beat us a couple of times one-on-one. You have to try that a little bit of that stuff, be harder on it. I think that’s how Anders [Bjork] has turned the corner a little bit, that’s what Marchy [Brad Marchand] does, ‘Pasta’ [David Pastrnak]. Little bit is on Jake to initiate, have some second effort on pucks and some will on it to create some offense.”
Cassidy said he was not opposed to reshuffling the lines again when the Bruins play the Nashville Predators in Nashville Tuesday night. The question now is will DeBrusk be part of those new lines and given the chance to put forth that second effort or will he be watching from the Bridgestone Arena press box?