After exhausting the rest of his coaching tools attempting to coax more offense out of slumping Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, it looks like Bruce Cassidy is headed to the last resort.
The 23-year-old DeBrusk will be a healthy scratch for Tuesday night’s big game vs. the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum after putting up just one goal in 17 games this season. Certainly, DeBrusk has had some good moments like his 14 shot attempts last month in a win over the Rangers or his change-of-pace shootout winner over the Flyers back in January, but the effort hasn’t been there consistency enough for his head coach.
“We’ve tried different angles with Jake. He’s met with me and he’s met one-on-one with the coaches Joe [Sacco] and Jay [Pandolfo], and he’s met with his lines and talked to some of the veteran guys. At the end of the day, we’re just not getting out of Jake what we want,” said Cassidy of DeBrusk, who has had two or less shots on goal in each of his last five games. “At the end of the day some of it is situational and due to circumstance, he’s been moved around, he’s been hurt and the center he’s played with has been hurt.
“But I still feel he’s been given ice time to perform to the best of his ability and we just feel we’re not getting the effort required. It’s not always about the score sheet. It’s about being one of 20 guys helping you win, and some nights it’s there and some nights it’s not. You try different messaging with a player and sometimes sitting upstairs and getting a look is not a bad way to go to put a different perspective on it.”
While the healthy scratch may stoke up some trade chatter involving DeBrusk and the Bruins, that is not the way a coach talks about a player that’s about to be traded. That’s the way a hockey coach talks about a player that he wants to see more out of on a consistent basis when all over avenues have been exhausted.
Clearly the numbers aren’t great for a player with DeBrusk’s talent. The one goal scored, the four points and the minus-5 are indicative of a player that isn’t being assertive enough offensively and isn’t paying attention to the details often enough at both ends of the ice. Certainly, it’s become characteristic of DeBrusk to put in the “fly-by” effort on the fore-check rather than using his speed to dig in and create turnovers.
When it comes to effort categories whether it’s hits, blocked shots or takeaways, DeBrusk is either last or close to it in every category among regular Boston Bruins forwards that have been in the lineup on a regular basis.
That shouldn’t be good enough for the Boston Bruins, and it seems that is the statement being made by the head coach. Instead, Sean Kuraly will come back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last couple of games and Jack Studnicka will get a shot on the second line at right wing alongside David Krejci and Nick Ritchie.
Tuukka Rask was left behind in Boston after appearing to tweak his back in the third period of Sunday afternoon’s loss to the New Jersey Devils, so Daniel Vladar will serve as Jaroslav Halak’s backup on Tuesday night vs. the Islanders. Here is the projected Bruins lineup based on morning skate at Nassau Coliseum.
#NHLBruins morning rushes:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Studnicka
Frederic – Coyle – Smith
Bjork – Kuraly – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Zboril – Clifton
Tinordi – Vaakanainen
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 9, 2021