DeBrusk doing all of the little things right to earn his spot in Boston


DeBrusk doing all of the little things right to earn his spot in Boston

BOSTON – The overwhelming chatter leading up to Saturday night’s game vs. the Islanders was about electric rookie playmaker Mathew Barzal, and the fact that the Bruins passed on him in the 2015 NHL Draft with their three consecutive picks. Only time will tell if the Bruins played it correctly, whiffed badly, or made the right choice by passing on the forward. There won’t be a final resolution until a good 5-10 years have gone by for respective careers of Barzal, Jake DeBrusk, Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn.

But DeBrusk stepped up and made a huge statement about his own game in a 3-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday night, when the 21-year-old left winger scored the game-winning goal. He also stepped up and courageously tangled with Casey Cizikas after the Islanders energy guy threw a big hit on Charlie McAvoy.  

DeBrusk was slapped with an instigator penalty good for 17 penalty minutes that seemed ridiculous given that the rookie waited for Cizikas to drop the gloves before engaging in the fight, but he rookie was able to make light of it after the game.

“The fight? Well, I mean a fight’s a fight. I think I had zero penalty minutes coming in and now I have 17. So, it’s kind of funny that way,” said DeBrusk, who is now on pace for a solid 19 goals and 45 points this season. “It’s a big night; it’s kind of funny that way, but no, it was just more so standing up for a teammate. I thought it was a clean hit. I didn’t think it was dirty, but just heat of the moment.” 

DeBrusk was close to finishing off a nice setup with David Krejci in the third period, close to earning himself a Gordie Howe hat trick. Saturday night served as a showcase for DeBrusk’s talent, strong character and makeup, and the variety of reasons he’s going to be just fine with the Bruins. Sure, he might not land as many points as Barzal has at the end of the season, but DeBrusk is looking like a pretty good player himself. 

DeBrusk has been showcasing why he’s a perfect fit for this particular hockey club now, and that’s really the most important thing.   

“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,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He’s in there looking after one of his teammates, so guys appreciate that. In the playoffs the discipline level goes up a lot and obviously the regular season you need your level of discipline, but at that time and juncture in the game, I think everyone’s fine with [DeBrusk sticking up for his teammate] and it will help him in the room."

“I think it was written that there [should have been] a certain player drafted ahead of him, so I think he took it upon himself to maybe show that he’s here for a reason, he’s a good player in his own right, and he was pretty excited about it. Good for him; he’s a young guy and we like that excitement level out of those young guys.”

Despite spending 17 total minutes in the box, DeBrusk would net his sixth goal of the year. He jumped out of the box after serving his time, and managed to score on his first post-fight shift with a shot at the net from the high slot area. It was, on one hand, a resounding bit of karmic glory from the Hockey Gods after doing the right thing standing up for one of his teammates. It was also a great display of character and poise from a young winger that immediately responding with production after lengthy penalty time.

“I thought it was great to see him stepping up for Chuckie [Charlie McAvoy] there and then getting that goal. 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,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Then he was ready for when I guess 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 [when the B’s needed him].”

The simple truth when it comes to DeBrusk is that he’s the best, and most advanced, of the three players selected by the Bruins in the middle of the 2015 NHL Draft. The young forward looks like he’s going to be in the NHL for a long time. There is no revisionist history with Bruins fans wanting Barzal rather than DeBrusk with the 14th overall pick because that was never really the case. This entire situation is unfortunately more about 15th overall pick Zach Senyshyn as he slowly gathers experience in Providence, and faces lingering questions about whether he’ll ever be better than Barzal, Kyle Connor, Travis Konecny, Brock Boeser, Colin White or any number of talented players selected right after him in the draft.

Right now DeBrusk looks like the surest Bruins bet for a long NHL career between the three 2015 first round picks, and he backed that up with the kind of scoring, tough game Bruins fans will learn to love very, very quickly. 


McAvoy undergoes procedure for 'abnormal heart rhythm'


McAvoy undergoes procedure for 'abnormal heart rhythm'

BRIGHTON, Mass – As a workhorse 20-year-old hockey player, it wasn’t much of a warning signal when Charlie McAvoy missed Monday’s Bruins practice with what the team initially called “a doctor’s appointment.” But it turned out to be a fairly serious absence as the Bruins announced later in the afternoon that their prized rookie is going to miss roughly two weeks after undergoing a procedure at Mass General Hospital to address an abnormal heart rhythm. 

According to the Bruins statement: “After the Nov. 26 game, Charlie told team physicians that he experienced heart palpitations during the game. Subsequently he underwent an evaluation, which diagnosed him with a supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). The type of SVT Charlie has is not considered to be dangerous to his health but can recur at any time and causes significant symptoms.”

After consulting with a multitude of doctors, McAvoy and the Bruins opted for the procedure because of the high likelihood of the condition’s recurrence. McAvoy will spend the night at Mass General, and is expected to return to the lineup in a couple of weeks. 

The timing of McAvoy’s procedure around the NHL All-Star break means he’ll miss fewer games than he might have otherwise, but it also means the 20-year-old is obviously out of the running to be a replacement for the injured Victor Hedman on the Atlantic Division squad. At this point it’s just good news that the B’s prized young rookie is going to be okay by all accounts, and that the team was able to catch the condition early on with McAvoy’s entire career in front of him. 

The 20-year-old McAvoy has been one of the best rookies in the entire NHL this season with five goals and 25 points in 45 games along with a plus-18 rating, and the B’s D-man also leads all NHL rookies by a wide margin with 22:49 of ice time per game. 


Morning Skate: Darling experiment not working out for Hurricanes


Morning Skate: Darling experiment not working out for Hurricanes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while readying for some serious NHL All-Star game action later this week. 


*In a world where we sometimes think it would be easy to replace Tuukka Rask with somebody as effective as a No. 1 goalie for the Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes and Scott Darling serve as solid evidence that it really isn’t that easy to find a high-caliber goaltender. The Canes tried to go the route of grabbing a good, young established backup to be their No. 1 guy a la Cam Talbot in Edmonton, and it just hasn’t worked out for the Hurricanes. There is still time for Darling to step up and be the guy Carolina needs him to be, but it hasn’t happened yet. 


*Rick Nash is a big fan of Pavel Buchnevich, and thinks the young Rangers forward can become a star in the league


*It’s a sad day for USA Hockey as Jim Johansson has passed away far too young at 53 years old. Here’s a good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance on hockey’s loss with Johansson’s passing. 


*In a great development for the Bruins and a not-so-great one for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ondrej Palat is out for an indefinite amount of time


*NBC is already getting fired up about the heated Team USA/Team Canada rivalry in women’s hockey, and I am right there with them. 


*One of the leaders in the Colorado Avalanche dressing room said that the trade of Matt Duchene away has improved Colorado’s culture “a lot.”


*For something completely different: It sounds like it was a pretty awesome experience to go to the Eagles/Vikings NFC championship game if you were from Minnesota. In other words, not so awesome.