In the NHL, one forward line (no matter how dominant it might be) can only carry you so far. One of the biggest challenges for the Bruins (11-6-3) in 2018-19 is figuring out who they can count on up front besides the brilliant trio of left wing Brad Marchand (6 goals, 15 assists), center Patrice Bergeron (9 goals, 17 assists) and right wing David Pastrnak (17 goals, 8 assists). In his second season with the B’s, left wing Jake DeBrusk (8 goals, 2 assists) is starting to heat up as he shows that he could be just the goal-scorer and dependable player that head coach Bruce Cassidy can count on in the big games and moments.
In many ways, you could say that DeBrusk was essentially built for this since he’s the son of former NHL player Louie DeBrusk, a noted tough guy in his playing days that has parlayed that into a career as a commentator on Sportsnet (Canada’s equivalent of ESPN) and Hockey Night in Canada. Having a parent that plays a sport professionally has to give a kid like Jake a leg up from an early age. No doubt, he was around the game all his life and his dad has been able to impart countless lessons that regular parents just wouldn’t know anything about. Genetic advantages aside, the younger DeBrusk has earned undoubtedly his way here as he was one of Boston’s three first-round picks (14th overall) in 2015 and it didn’t take the Edmonton native long to reach the top level after a few professional years in the minors.
Lately, with numerous injuries to their defensive corps and Bergeron, the Bruins’ lineup has been patchworked together on a nightly basis. On Saturday in Arizona (9-9-1), DeBrusk found himself at right wing on the top line with Marchand (and Joakim Nordstrom at center) and the two combined for a goal by Jake that ended up being the game-winner in an eventual 2-1 nail-biting Boston victory. “I think he took it upon himself to be a leader today,” said DeBrusk about Marchand. “Obviously him and Bergy are pretty close so anytime’s Bergy’s missing, I think that Marchy brings it to another level.”
DeBrusk also had a pair of goals on the road trip opener in Colorado (10-6-4) last Wednesday. Boston’s four-game odyssey ends in Detroit (9-9-2) on Wednesday (7:30, NESN) before they host Pittsburgh (7-8-3) on Black Friday (7:30, NESN) and go to Montreal (11-6-3) the following night (7, NESN). At 6-feet-tall and 188 pounds, Jake isn’t the most physically imposing guy but he plays larger than his size as they like to say. His goal vs. the Coyotes was a perfect example of that as he followed up Marchand’s net drive by putting in the rebound that was left on the doorstep. DeBrusk already has four points (3 goals, 1 assist) on the power play this season which shows that he has a nose for the net, plus his first NHL postseason experience last spring (6 goals, 2 assists) proves that he’s not afraid of pressure or the spotlight that causes many others to wilt.