BRIGHTON, Mass – After watching fellow Bruins prospects Anders Bjork and Jesse Gabrielle score in the preseason opener vs. the Canadiens on Monday night, Jake DeBrusk knows the bar has been set for him as he readies to take the ice against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
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It will be the first preseason game for DeBrusk this fall and it his first in a top-six spot at left wing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak.
DeBrusk, 20, has worked with Krejci exclusively the first five days of camp and Pastrnak was added to that duo as soon as he signed and reported to Boston last weekend. It’s clear the Bruins are giving the former first-round pick a big audition with Krejci and Pastrnak, and DeBrusk is excited to show what he can do.
“I’m feeling good, excited to put on the jersey again and play at the Garden,” said DeBrusk. “We see each other every day, and we know how good we all are. I saw a couple of [young] guys get on the board last night with a big comeback win. So they kind of set the tone and we’re expecting the same result for sure. I just want to show that I can stay there, that I can play on that line and that I belong in that [top-six] area.”
DeBrusk hasn’t quite immediately taken off the way Bjork has in the first week of camp, but he’s been steadily trying to improve chemistry with Krejci and Pastrnak as the practice days have unfolded. Clearly, there is skill there with DeBrusk after 19 goals and 49 points in 70 games with the P-Bruins as a first-year pro, but there’s still some question as to whether he’s a no-doubt top-six winger or more of a third line type who can play higher in the lineup.
“[We want to see him] get pucks off the wall to Krejci,” Bruce Cassidy said. “Krejci is great coming out of our end with speed and leading the attack. That’s one of his strengths. We look for [DeBrusk] to be on top of pucks and create turnovers much like [Pastrnak] does on fore-check in the neutral zone. He does have good foot speed and a good stick. We’re looking for him to finish plays. Obviously, the guy on the right side, Pasta, has made a name for himself doing that, so not all of the pressure is on Jake to do that.
“We just want him to pitch, and when there are plays there to be finished we want him to be able to do that. Then obviously he’s got to do it on a consistent basis, but he’ll get his look tonight. He’s been on that line for three or four days, so let’s see what he’s got.”
Certainly, the intensity has been there for DeBrusk while also showing a little frustration when plays haven’t been made with Krejci in practice. Now, he’s looking forward to getting a chance in a preseason game where playmaking chemistry either materializes or it doesn’t.
“It goes hand-in-hand that you want to have games with them as well as practices,” said DeBrusk. “I think every day it’s been getting better, so just looking forward to some game action with them. I’m just going to work hard, play my game, stick to my game and hopefully contribute.”
If DeBrusk does all of that, much like his fellow young prospects did on Monday night in Quebec City, then he should be just fine in his first really big audition with the Black and Gold.