The long, strange, and now ironic trip for Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk since he requested a trade back in November, continued Wednesday.
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced that DeBrusk will play right wing on the top line with center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Brad Marchand (who is returning from a six-game suspension), on Thursday night when the Bruins play their first-ever game in Seattle against the Kraken. For a player who has bounced up and down the Bruins’ forward lines so much that he felt a fresh start would be better for him and the team, this a big move and Cassidy made sure DeBrusk is comfortable and ready to step into a more important role.
“Sometimes it’s tough when you go in with two guys that are, arguably, Hall of Famers. You get a little nervous,” Cassidy said following practice Wednesday. “I think that’s what’s happened over the years with some younger guys. Jake’s a little older now. We had a good discussion about that – is that something that would take him away from his game or help build his game.
“He should have a say in this. We had that conversation. He’d like to give it a go and see where it leads. Sometimes chemistry happens, sometimes it doesn’t but that’s how we’re gonna try it for now.”
After going six games without a point, DeBrusk has a goal in each of the last two games. The Boston Bruins winger has nine goals and eight assists in 45 games this season. Obviously, Cassidy would love for DeBrusk to extend that goal streak or contribute offensively somehow, but for now, the Bruins bench boss just wants DeBrusk to be the player he knows he can be.
“He has to bring some of the attributes that he brings best…speed, create some turnovers on the forecheck. They’re a line that will play both off the rush and puck pursuit,” Cassidy said. “We’d ask of anybody on that line, make sure that you hang on to pucks. They’re a good cycle line, second effort on pucks. Then play your game. He’s a smart player, he’s a good offensive player, read off those guys.”
Playing with Bergeron and Marchand also means being the best you can be at both ends of the ice though and Cassidy is confident that DeBrusk can hold his own playing two-way hockey. DeBrusk may be a minus 6 but he has shown he can play defense when needed, as witnessed when he’s played on the checking line with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar.
“We used him against good lines, and he was really good with that line. That part of it we’re not worried about. When he’s on, he’s a good all-around player. That will be the ask,” Cassidy said. “Defensively, Jake’s habits have been more consistent in terms of stick position in D-zone, just remind him about those and correct when we need to, like everybody.”
Here’s what the lines should look like when the Boston Bruins play the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena for the first time ever:
Note: Marchand missed practice Wednesday due to a family matter and will be in Seattle Thursday when the team takes to the ice for their game-day skate.
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno-Tomas Nosek-Curtis Lazar
Mike Reilly – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton