Bruins

DeBrusk ready to 'calm down and play hockey' after healthy scratch

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DeBrusk ready to 'calm down and play hockey' after healthy scratch

The rookie season in the NHL has been a series of firsts for 20-year-old Jake DeBrusk, and most of them have been pretty great. 

The tops would obviously be DeBrusk scoring his first NHL goal on opening night in front of his family, but there have been some good moments little more than a month into his NHL career. There also the inevitable lows as well with the left winger sporting a team-worst minus-10 rating on the season and accounting for just one goal in his last 11 games. 

Perhaps sensing that DeBrusk needed to “hit the reset button”, Bruce Cassidy made the young forward a healthy scratch for the first time all season in Saturday night’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. DeBrusk understood the reasoning behind it and was hoping to turn it into a positive at a point where the Bruins badly need difference-makers up front. 

“When I get back in I want to be ready to go, and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said DeBrusk, who had zero shots on net and just 9:43 of ice time in the Friday night loss to Toronto in the last game he played. “I think the biggest thing right now is that you need to stick with it, and play with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. You want to get it. That’s the kind of approach I need to take right now. You hit the reset button and just kind of go after it.

“It’s never a good situation. You’re sitting up in the press box while your team is playing, and you want to help your team. But there are positives that can be taken from it. I think it shows your character in what you do after it, and it’s another test for me. There are things I know I need to change and things I know I need to correct, and it’s pretty evident I need to change them quickly.”

What kinds of things does DeBrusk need to change in order to keep his name penciled in the lineup at the NHL level?

“I think I just need to calm down and play hockey, and do what I was doing in training camp being one of the fastest guys and just buzzing around out there,” said DeBrusk. “It’s being a hound on the fore-check…simple things like that while not thinking so much. The next game I’m going to do everything I can to have those [skating] legs and then the rest will fall into place.”

Cassidy expected he’d be putting DeBrusk right back into the thick of things on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, and the fact he’s also presumably down both Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork makes that decision a little bit easier. 

“Jake will most likely go back in,” said Cassidy. “The message to him was watch a game from up top. There are certain areas of your game that need to be better, and there are certain areas of your game that we like and need to be there every night. We talked about his energy and his legs. If he’s skating then everything else seems to fall into place for Jake, so that’s what we’re looking for.”

It’s the first time DeBrusk has been scratched at the NHL level, but it may not be the last given the nature of young rookie players adjusting to the intensity and daily grind. The challenge for a conscientious, hard-working kid like DeBrusk will be how he responds to all this with the Bruins facing a big challenge on a three-game road swing through California.   

McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg

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McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg

BRIGHTON, Mass – It marks just another step on Adam McQuaid’s eventual return to game action, but it was a big one getting back on the ice with his Bruins teammates on Monday for his first practice since breaking his right fibula on Oct. 19. 

The 31-year-old McQuaid has missed 21 games and counting since blocking a pair of shots in a win over Vancouver that ultimately snapped his right leg. It’s been a long road of rehab and working his way back after a fairly significant surgery, but the light is present at the end of the tunnel now for the rugged, stay-at-home defenseman.

However, it looks like there will be a healthy amount of practice time involved before McQuaid has sufficiently knocked the rust off for game action after missing the last seven weeks. 

“He’s still got a ways to go, so I don’t want to even speculate [on a return date],” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll start to sort the pieces together when he’s truly ready to play, but it’s nice to have him around. He’s a great guy and his teammates all love him.”

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Clearly McQuaid has suffered his share of injuries over the years while playing a fearless style of blocking shots, throwing hits and defending his teammates at all costs. Just don’t expect him to change the way he plays after suffering a major injury in that particular line of duty because McQuaid knows exactly what his job description is on the ice. 

“Obviously today was a good step. It was good to be out there with the guys, and hopefully things continue to progress,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 rating in six games this season. “It’s tough. Without sugarcoating it, it was [a tough injury]. But you can’t change the situation. You try to persevere through and be better for it, so hopefully that will be the case with this. I felt good coming into the season, so it was disappointing in that way. But I’m looking to work back to that level now.

“I’ve said to some people that I can choose between getting hurt once in a while and missing some time, or playing a different style and probably not playing at all. I don’t foresee anything changing with me in that way. When you get out there, you just play and get into that mindset where you can’t think about injuries. 

It’s going to be a challenge for Bruins head coach Cassidy to work McQuaid back into the lineup when he is ready to play given the six-man defense corps that’s functioning well these days with rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk in the lineup. Still McQuaid is bullishly strong, a Stanley Cup champ and as good of a teammate as you’ll find when it comes to defending everybody else in a Bruins uniform, so it won’t be too long before he finds his way back into the lineup.  

Cassidy appreciates all of those things in McQuaid’s game since their early days together with the Providence Bruins, and bristles at the notion of his injuries being looked at as a liability in any way. McQuaid has missed an average of 18 games per season over his seven full seasons with the Bruins, but Cassidy sees it as more of a hazard of the particular role he fills on the back end. Not everybody can do what McQuaid does, but it’s absolutely needed on any hockey club that’s going to be successful in the regular season and playoffs. 

“He plays hard every night and he’s a guy that blocks more shots than anybody,” said Cassidy. “Yes, he missed the last seven weeks because he blocked two shots in the same sequence. He puts himself in harm’s way and he’s suffered some injuries because of it. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to get into labels…I love the guy. 

“The game needs players like him, and the team needs him if you want to be hard to play against. Guys like that are necessary…I’ve heard that [injury-prone] description and I think it’s unfair because [McQuaid] lays it on the line every night.” 

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with both Ryan Spooner (lower body) and Noel Acciari (upper body) practicing and uncertain if they can play Wednesday night in Detroit: 

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Beleskey-Spooner-Vatrano

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Postma-McQuaid

 

Rask

Khudobin

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Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks

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Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while avoiding all “The Last Jedi” spoilers out there. 

 

*Brock Boeser continues to score and play well for the Vancouver Canucks despite the extra attention as one of the NHL’s lead rookie players this season. I hate to say it, but this is another one of those players from the second half of the first round in the 2015 NHL Draft. I’ll leave it at that and move on. 

 

*Alex Burrows fined $5000 for an incident in San Jose, but at least he didn’t bite anybody this time around, right? 

 

*It must be a slow week if there’s a big think piece about the ritual of using smelling salts right before the drop of the puck in NHL games. 

 

*There is more speculation about the Ottawa Senators trading Erik Karlsson than ever before in his NHL career, but his thoughts haven’t changed about wanting to win in Ottawa. 

 

*Good for the Bruins going out and donating some Christmas trees this weekend to the families of service members and veterans in Leominster. 

 

*It’s been a whopping 44 games since Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has scored a goal, and that’s an almost unthinkable drought considering how much he handles the puck. 

 

*For something completely different: Wonder Woman is getting snubbed by the Golden Globes, and it’s difficult to understand why.