BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s certainly not set in stone quite yet with another week-plus of training camp to go, but it would appear that Jake DeBrusk has the inside track on the top-six left wing job with David Krejci and David Pastrnak.
DeBrusk, 20, hasn’t lit the lamp yet in the preseason while skating with Krejci and Pastrnak, but he’s certainly done some of the little things he’ll need to do for success on that line: Winning puck battles down low, paying the price in front of the net and playing with big-bodied strength along the walls to support his skilled Czech linemates.
Now it comes down to showing a little more finish to his game coming off 19 goals last season in his first year of pro hockey in Providence. On the bright side, he’s been with Krejci and Pastrnak pretty exclusively since the start of camp and that’s a sign DeBrusk is going to get every opportunity break camp in that exact spot.
“It’s an anxious time for all of us as we’re really trying hard to make the team,” said DeBrusk. “Personally I’m looking at as an opportunity to get better every day and work on the things that I need to work on. I think I’ve been with David Krejci every single day of camp. When you’re with players like that everyday building chemistry it really helps your confidence and gets you comfortable around the room.
“But I know it’s a tough task at hand because it’s the best league in the world and there is still a lot of work to be done. There are lots of things I need to prove and I’m looking forward to the chance to do that. Obviously, everybody wants to get on the board and I’m playing with two offensive guys, so that’s the main focus. But I look at the overall game. I’ve had some Grade-A chances, but I just haven’t finished. It will be nice to hopefully see one of them go in, and have some of that success that I’ve seen other guys have in this camp.”
Count Pastrnak as a fan of DeBrusk’s game as the 21-year-old star-in-the-making gave the rookie left winger a vote of confidence as the guy he’d most like to see on his line once the regular season begins against Nashville on Oct. 5.
“In the last two games he’s gotten plenty of pucks out of the battles and he’s winning pucks, so I think the scoring and confidence will come with it,” said Pastrnak. “I like it and think [DeBrusk] is a pretty good fit. There are so many good, young players this year, so it’s fun to watch.
“I’ve been there not long ago, so I know how it feels. We had so many good opportunities in that first [preseason] game with Jake and we didn’t get rewarded. Three years ago that would have brought me down if I had those good chances without getting rewarded, but it’s not always about scoring. We had a good game offensively and we try to let him know not to let it bring [DeBrusk] down. I’m pretty sure the scoring is going to come.”
It would be ideal if it happens this week in the final two preseason tune-ups as the Bruins travel to Philadelphia and Chicago. DeBrusk wants to really lock down his NHL position by finishing off some of those plays in the offensive zone with Krejci and Pastrnak.