Category Archives: Jake DeBrusk Jersey

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Jake DeBrusk has never been considered your average goal scorer. His abilities range far beyond what a typical top-six winger usually provides.

Among those attributes is a bit of an ornery side. And for the first time in his young career, the full wrath of that side came out during the second period of the Bruins’ 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

After Casey Cizikas delivered a heavy hit on Charlie McAvoy by the Islanders bench in the second period, DeBrusk took exception, stepping in and dropping the gloves for his first career fight. The former first-round pick was issued an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct for his efforts and was forced to watch most of the second period from the Bruins dressing room as he served his 17-minute banishment.

When DeBrusk returned, the more traditional side of his game shone through, too. On his first shift after the penalty, the 21-year-old delivered with a spin-o-rama snipe from the slot for what proved to be the deciding goal.

It was a sequence that could prove to be a defining one for the rookie.

“He comes through there and he sticks up for his teammate, that shows a lot,” said Bruins alternate captain David Backes. “Then to capitalize on a goal after not playing for 17 minutes – I was asking if he jumped on a bike there in the second period or what to keep going, because I know that can be a tough thing to get your feet back under you and get up to speed again.

“He made good of that opportunity and it ends up being the game-winning goal. Two points for us and that’s what we we’re looking for.”

DeBrusk has never been shy to drop the gloves. The 6-foot, 183-pounder fought five times over three seasons in the WHL and twice more with Providence last season. Despite being known more for his offensive prowess, DeBrusk’s rough-and-tumble side is no surprise given the fact that his father, Louie, was once one of the NHL’s premier tough guys – fighting 115 times over his 11-year career.

“It really showed that he’s a great teammate,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “You don’t have to be a big guy to drop gloves and stand up for your teammate and he did. Good for him, he showed a lot of character in that act. He did pretty well. Obviously the toughness is something he has in his family. It’s a great sign of being part of a good team.”

DeBrusk, who had zero career penalty minutes before the fight, said he believed Cizikas’ hit on McAvoy was clean, but felt it was important to stand up for his fellow rookie.

“I think it was a clean hit, it was just a really hard one and I didn’t like it…I verbally asked him if he wanted to go and he said yes and he dropped his gloves, so that’s how it happened,” said DeBrusk. “It was a bit of a different scenario, to say the least. It was something that happened, and I honestly didn’t try to get an instigator or anything like that.”

It was the type of penalty that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was happy to live with.

“I think it’s good for his teammates to know that he’s going to get in there, whether people think it’s right or wrong…he’s in there looking after one of his teammates, so guys appreciate that,” said Cassidy. “At that time and juncture in the game, I think everyone’s fine with it and it will help him in the room.”

Nevertheless, DeBrusk wanted to make up for having to spend 17 minutes in the dressing room. With plenty of jump in his step, DeBrusk returned in the third period and took advantage on his first shift.

“I watched the period in here and just felt a little out of sorts and just wanted to get back in action and make the first shift a good one. Was lucky enough to cash in on a goal,” said DeBrusk.

The tally was a shining example of DeBrusk’s scoring touch. The winger picked up a bouncing puck off a pass from Torey Krug and made his way to the slot, where he spun and fired a blistering wrister by Jaroslav Halak with 13:15 remaining to build a 2-0 lead.

“I just wanted to get the puck on net. I was kind of trying to honestly generate maybe a rebound,” said DeBrusk. “It was kind of a weird play…I didn’t really know where the net was. I kind of had an idea, but I just turned and just shot as hard as I could and it went in.

“It was nice to see that and obviously missing a whole period and then coming back, it was huge.”

It was a look into what could be a very bright future. And a sequence that his teammates certainly won’t forget.

“I thought it was great to see him stepping up for Chuckie there and then getting that goal,” said Patrice Bergeron. “He was in the penalty box for a while and sometimes your legs can get stiff and cold, and he didn’t miss a beat. Then he was ready for when he got a tap on the back, and came back on the ice.

“It was a huge goal for us. We needed that. So kudos to him for stepping up and making those two big plays.”

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Bruce Cassidy had one specific thing in mind when he jettisoned Jake DeBrusk to the press box last weekend against Toronto at TD Garden.

Boston’s bench boss believed the rookie’s skating game was lagging and needed a jolt. So Cassidy made the 21-year-old a healthy scratch against the Leafs and asked him to watch the game from a different perspective.

DeBrusk returned to the lineup in the opener of the Bruins’ three-game West Coast swing and notched an assist against the Ducks, doing it all with a bit of extra pep in his step. Cassidy was pleased with the youngster’s response to a difficult situation and entrusted him yet again with more ice time.

Cassidy’s trust paid off even further on Saturday night as DeBrusk put forth, perhaps, the best game of his short career. The Alberta native turned on the jets and notched a goal and an assist to help pace the Bruins to a crucial 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center.

The win – which also included 36 saves from Anton Khudobin – clinched Boston’s first back-to-back wins of the year and secured a 2-1 road trip through the Golden State, sending the Black & Gold back to the Hub feeling much better about the state of their season.

“He’s got pride and character,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We talked about these young kids coming in here and how he grew last year as a player in Providence. That was part of it with Jake. He wanted his opportunity and didn’t get it last year. He’s gotten it this year. He took a step back, but now he’s taken another one forward.”

DeBrusk, whose first-period tally proved to be the difference, was not the only youngster to come through for Boston. During what turned into a banner night for the B’s young talent, rookies accounted for all three of Boston’s goals.

Peter Cehlarik got the Bruins on the board in the first period with his first career goal, while Danton Heinen added some insurance with a tally late in the third when he capitalized off a Bobby Orr-like rush and feed from Kevan Miller. Fellow rooks Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly also added helpers on DeBrusk’s marker.

“We talked about it in July and August that some of these kids were going to be given an opportunity and you’d never know which ones are gonna step up,” said Cassidy. “It was [Anders] Bjork for a while, he’s injured. Cehlarik comes in and gets his first goal – he’s playing in key situations. Jake has really bounced back from a little banishment up top.

“Charlie, you see it on a nightly basis. Kuraly doesn’t get talked about much, does a good job for us. He’s out there against [Joe] Thornton sometimes in their end, he’s out there against [Logan] Couture. These are world-class players. Good for them.

“We need it, especially being absent some of the guys we rely on… a lot of positives. You hope it pays off in the long run.”

DeBrusk displayed his patented speed on each of the B’s first two goals. On Boston’s first tally early in the opening period, he and Cehlarik played catch through the neutral zone before DeBrusk dashed to the net, dangled through the mighty Brent Burns, and flipped a shot on Sharks goalie Aaron Dell.

Dell made the initial stop as DeBrusk tumbled into him after being tripped by Joakim Ryan, but Cehlarik was there for the follow and punched home the rebound for the first goal of his career to tie the game, 1-1, just 1:27 after San Jose had opened the scoring.

“I personally saw it all last year in Providence, these guys that are playing with us now, including myself,” said DeBrusk, who was a plus-2 and landed four shots on goal in nearly 16 minutes of ice time. “It’s always nice to see. We want it so bad and we’re trying to work as hard as we can to help this team in any way. That’s the biggest way you can help. Good for Danton and awesome for Peter to get his first.”

It was, however, nearly a case of déjà vu for Cehlarik when San Jose challenged the tally for goalie interference. During Boston’s California trip last February, Cehlarik had his first career goal wiped off the board following a review in Los Angeles.

But there was no need to worry this time around, as it was determined that DeBrusk was tripped into the Sharks netminder.

“Last year, having that one called off… hopefully that gets me going now and I can stick around for more,” said Cehlarik. “Every night someone is gonna step up. We’re missing a lot of players so it’s on us [young players] to step up.”

DeBrusk was at it again on the Bruins second goal. With a San Jose power play expiring, McAvoy flipped the puck off the glass with the intent of sending it 200 feet down the ice. But the puck ricocheted off a stanchion and popped out to the neutral zone. DeBrusk chased it down and picked up the puck deep in the San Jose end for a breakaway.

Some indecision from Dell as to whether or not to play the puck left DeBrusk unimpeded and the winger took advantage, firing a shot far side to put the Bruins ahead for good at 10:46 of the first.

“Those were the legs. He tracked down a puck and buried it, split the D with a nice individual move,” said Cassidy. “He’s feeling it a little bit again. That’s the way young guys are. He lost it a bit…it’s up to the staff to make him feel good about his game. But it’s an individual as well. This is the National Hockey League. You’ve got to come ready to play. He seemed to figure out the mental part of it lately.”
A trip to the press box can do that for a player. DeBrusk’s play in the three games since his night on the ninth floor is proof of that.

“It’s hard for it not to be a wake-up call in a sense,” said DeBrusk. “It’s never good being healthy scratched. I take that personally and I wanted to react the way I have reacted in the last couple games. The results have been there…I guess you could call it a wake-up call and it’s been working.”

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Jake DeBrusk was not interested in sugarcoating his situation. To him, a trip to TD Garden’s ninth floor for Saturday night’s contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs was nothing to pleased about.

“You can take it however you want to take it. I believe it’s a negative thing, it’s never good when you’re not helping the team,” DeBrusk said of the first healthy scratch of his young career. “There’s certain reasons why it happened and that’s where you take a positive approach on changing those things so that it doesn’t happen again.

“Taking it day-by-day getting better, but there are some things I learned for sure.”

Watching the game from above provided DeBrusk with a different perspective on the game and allowed him to take a step back from what has been a challenging stretch for the 21-year-old rookie, who has just one goal over his last 11 games.

“It’s not one big thing,” said DeBrusk. “I think I need to calm down and just play hockey, just do what I was doing at the beginning of training camp, being one of the fastest guys, buzzing around out there, being a hound on the forecheck, simple things like that [and] stop thinking so much.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is confident in the winger’s ability to bounce back and confirmed that he’ll be back in the lineup on Wednesday night against the Ducks. Boston’s bench boss would like to see more energy in DeBrusk’s skating game, an area he believes has been lacking of late.

“The message was, ‘Hey, watch from up top, there are certain areas of your game that need to be better, certain areas of your game that we like that you have to bring every night.’ We talked about that,” said Cassidy. “His energy is his legs…when he’s skating, the rest kind of falls into place. That’s what we’re looking for.”

In addition to watching from up top, DeBrusk took time to scour film and pick through the different areas of his game. Now, it’s up to him to apply what he absorbed and avoid another trip to the Garden’s ninth floor.

“It shows your character what you do after that. It’s just another test for me,” said DeBrusk, who will start on the right wing alongside Matt Beleskey and Riley Nash against Anaheim. “It’s one of those things when you’re watching players and seeing what makes them successful out there…it’s pretty evident that you need to change quick.

“You don’t want to be healthy scratch…at the same time there’s a lot of things you can learn up there and you learn about yourself up there.”

Krejci Out

David Krejci will not play against the Ducks on Wednesday night, but Cassidy termed the pivot as “probable” to make his return to the lineup on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“Doing much better, looks like [Thursday] will be a good target date for him,” said Cassidy. “He’ll be a game-time decision…for the immediate short term Krech would be the only [injured player] probable for tomorrow.”

Acciari Arrives

Noel Acciari rejoined the team after spending two days in Michigan for the services of one of his best friends and former Providence College teammate, Drew Brown, who passed away over the weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer.

“He was a tough kid, touched a lot of people with his smile. Never complained,” said Acciari. “He will be missed. It’s tough for me and it’s tough for his family right now, but they’re a tough group…he’s in a better place and he’s looking down on us.”

Ducks Banged Up

The Bruins are not alone in their injury woes, as the Ducks may be only team in the league with more players on the shelf. Anaheim (7-7-3) is without Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler, Jared Boll, Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase, and goalie Ryan Miller. And on Wednesday morning, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle termed defenseman Hampus Lindholm as a game-time decision.

“A lot of new faces. When they pre-scout, probably like us, they’re probably getting to the Hockey DB [reference website],” joked Cassidy. “But they still play strong defensively. They’re gonna try to protect the front of the net….they’re gonna be hard to play against.”

1,000 Games for Vermette

Ducks center Antoine Vermette is slated to play his 1,000th career game Wednesday night. The 35-year-old pivot has also suited up for Ottawa, Columbus, Arizona, and Chicago over his 14-year career.

Fellow Quebec native Patrice Bergeron has formed a friendship with Vermette over the years and often trains with him during the offseason.

“It’s definitely a big milestone for him,” said Bergeron. “I’m happy. It’s good timing that we’re playing each other for that game.”

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As he counted down the hours until his NHL debut, Jake DeBrusk took a moment to remember all that he has gone through to get to this point.

He remembered the times he was cut. And all the times he had to take a step back and start again. And all the other adversity that presented itself during the course of his journey to the National Hockey League.

“Everyone has a different road,” DeBrusk said a day before the season opener. “And mine has taken me to this moment. I’m very thankful for how everything’s worked out. It’s been a fun ride.”

That ride, however, is just beginning. And DeBrusk made sure to kick it off with a bang on Thursday night.

The 20-year-old winger potted his first career NHL goal and also grabbed his first assist, while landing a team-high four shots on goal, in the Bruins 4-3 season opening win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

“Pretty surreal to be honest,” said DeBrusk, who played 14 minutes, 5 seconds in his debut. “It was one that I’ll never forget, that’s for sure. A little bit of a blur at the moment. Was just trying to make a quick move, and it went in, and the crowd went pretty loud. So I’ll never forget that feeling.”

The feeling was made even more special given the special guests that were in attendance. DeBrusk’s entire immediate family flew in from Edmonton for his debut, including his father, Louie, the former winger, who played 400 NHL games for the Oilers, Lightning, Coyotes, and Blackhawks.

“It means a lot,” said DeBrusk, who was the first Bruin to score in his debut since Frank Vatrano in November 2015. “He took a red eye here with the family, got in early with family, took a nap, came to the game. It’s one of those things that I’m very fortunate and lucky. Obviously, everyone’s got different family things going on, but I was lucky enough for them to come and lucky enough to score when they were here.

“So it’s one of those things that I guess was meant to be, and something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”

The bond between father and son was clear following DeBrusk’s inaugural tally. When the NESN cameras panned to the proud father in Loge 20, tears were streaming down his face. And you can be sure son won’t allow father to live that one down anytime soon.

“Well, he’s known as a tough guy but I heard that there were some tears coming from him,” DeBrusk said with a smile. “So it’s a very emotional time, but I’ll be chirping him for a couple of years to come. That’s for sure.”

 

DeBrusk’s goal in his NHL debut was the brightest light in a bevy of standout performances from Boston’s young talent. David Pastrnak opened the scoring with a laser power-play tally midway through the first, while Anders Bjork – also making his NHL debut – assisted on DeBrusk’s goal. Charlie McAvoy, who was playing in his first regular season NHL game, had the helper on Pastrnak’s goal, before grabbing the first of his career to give Boston a 3-1 lead late in the second period.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Bruins had two players score their first NHL goals in their first NHL games on the same night was Feb. 13, 1949, when Zellio Toppazzini and Dave Creighton scored against the Rangers.

“It’s normal to have a little nerves in you before the first game,” said David Krejci, who notched three assists on the evening. “Not just for the young guys, but for the veterans as well. It was the first game in a long time. But I thought they handled themselves pretty good. Charlie and DeBrusk got their first goal so that’ll help their confidence. And Bjork got a point as well, so good for them.”

After Noel Acciari went down with an upper-body injury early in the second period, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was forced to switch up his lines – which were already jumbled given the absence of both Patrice Bergeron and David Backes. Cassidy decided then to shift Bjork to the right wing alongside DeBrusk and Krejci, and just moments later the trio connected to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

After Bjork took a long outlet pass from Matt Grzelcyk, he chipped the puck over to Krejci who tipped it to a charging DeBrusk. DeBrusk then finished the deal with a slick forehand deke around Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

“I played with Jake a lot this training camp,” said Krejci. “Haven’t skated with Bjork at all, but for some reason I thought we were finding each other pretty well. We’ll see how the lineup is going to look like, but it was fun playing this game.”

Cassidy, who has long praised DeBrusk’s skill and speed, was pleased with the youngster’s ability to keep up with the strength and rigor of an NHL game.

“Smart player – you can’t teach that,” said Cassidy. “Good feel for the game. We’ve talked about liking his pace. It’s just for him, it’s playing against big men now. Is he ready for that? Tonight he looked good. Other times, guys pushed him off the puck. He’ll have to learn what he can get away with, but he does have the ability to separate. We saw that.

“Tonight, he had a little bit of finish as well. That’s the other part. You need that production at some point, and we got it tonight.”

And the Bruins hope they get it for many more years to come.