Bruins

DeBrusk looking to show some finish, lock down NHL job

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DeBrusk looking to show some finish, lock down NHL job

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. 

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

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Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork
DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak
Agostino-Nash-White
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma

Khudobin

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

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Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.