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Boston Bruins’ DeBrusk Expected To ‘Bring On Offense’ In Big Spot

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Jake DeBrusk is still letting his play do the talking for him as he awaits a trade he requested of the Boston Bruins months ago, but at least that’s been a good thing lately.

DeBrusk scored a third period go-ahead and threw the pass for Charlie McAvoy’s game-winner in Thursday’s win over the Washington Capitals, all while playing in the injured Brad Marchand’s left wing spot in the lineup. The DeBrusk was initially credited to Patrice Bergeron, but it appeared that DeBrusk’s centering pass bounced off Evgeny Kuznetsov and then into the back of the net.

DeBrusk will do that again on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets and has actually been consistently strong for the Black and Gold since coming back at the beginning of January from the holiday/COVID break.

The 25-year-old DeBrusk has a goal and four points in seven games this month and has racked up 24 shots on net while playing with the speed, assertiveness and consistency that hasn’t always been there in his game.

“[DeBrusk] did a good job up there,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy of DeBrusk playing up in the lineup due to injuries. “When [Brad Marchand] goes out, Jake certainly has elements to bring on offense. That line we use obviously in matchup situations. They were matched up predominantly against (Alex) Ovechkin and (Evgeny) Kuznetsov (on Thursday) night. Jake did a good job replacing the offensive part of it, made some plays. He’ll get his opportunity, and hopefully it works out well for us.

“I think the mentality has to be, you can’t be Brad Marchand. He plays in every situation, he’s an elite player in this league. So just go and be the best version of yourself with those minutes. I think Jake did a good job with that, and we’ll certainly use him in that role.”

Now he gets a big opportunity to fill in for Marchand, who may be out for a period of time with what looked like a nasty right shoulder injury after getting slammed from behind into the boards by Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway. It’s exactly the kind of prime spot that could boost his trade value and ultimately hasten the trade away from Boston he’s been hoping for, though the Bruins obviously aren’t going to be moving him until their left wing health situation has stabilized a bit.

“When you lose a player like Brad Marchand, who’s probably the best [left] winger in the game right now, what he brings to our team not only as a player but leadership-wise, every guy wants to step up because of the way he steps up for us every night,” said Nick Foligno. “That’s what you saw (Thursday) night from the group. When you hear a guy like him go down injured, he’ll fight through everything to play, the guys know it’s on them. Every guy is like, ‘I’m going to do a little bit more, I’m going to do a little more that needs to be done.”

“(Thursday) night it was Jake for us. He steps into that role and does a great job getting two big goals for us and setting up the game-winner. It’s nice to see. It’s what this team does well. It seems like we’ve always had that next man up mentality, and we’re going to need that to replace a guy like Brad for, I’m sure, what won’t be too long with the way his mindset is.”

What’s been most noticeable about DeBrusk’s game lately has been a greatly increased willingness to utilize his speed for hard net drives, and a serviceable battle level on pucks that could still be even better than it is.

But at least No. 74 is noticeable on the ice most shifts this season, and more specifically in the last few weeks, than he was all of last season.

At this point DeBrusk is on a pace for 13 goals and 27 points on the season, which certainly isn’t where he’d like to be. But at least it’s an improvement over last season’s disappointing five goals scored, which DeBrusk has already surpassed in just 31 games played this season. At this point, DeBrusk can only help himself and help the Bruins with his elevated level of play and production, and that goes doubly so in a prominent spot in the lineup while Marchand heals up his injury.

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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