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.   

Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the B's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the B's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche

Here are my talking points from the Bruins’ first regulation loss at home in 2019-20:

GOLD STAR: It isn’t going to happen very often, but Ian Cole turned out to be the single biggest contributor in a team-wide win for the Avalanche. It was Cole that smoked a slap shot past the glove hand of Jaroslav Halak to give Colorado a 2-1 lead in the second period, and he made certain his first goal of the season was an important one. Cole also blocked five shots in 17:17 of ice time and was part of a gritty, determined effort to protect the lead once the Avs got up 3-1 in the third. He mixed in a couple of hits and a couple of takeaways as well, and made some big plays in what was pretty much a perfect game overall for Colorado.

HIGHLIGHTS: Bruins take first home regulation loss vs. Avs, 4-1

BLACK EYE: There’s more than a few, but how about Danton Heinen just not making the plays that he needs to make when he’s in the lineup? Forget about the zero shots on net in 16:45 of ice time, with a number of them either getting blocked or missing the net. That’s nothing new when it comes to a player that’s barely averaging a shot on net for game. But he also turned the puck over behind the Boston net in a sequence that led to Cole’s game-winner as the Bruins began to run around in the defensive zone. It was that particular play that led Bruce Cassidy to lament that the attention to details was lacking for his players at this point in the season. If Heinen isn’t making the little plays, is a minus player and isn’t bringing any offense, then he isn’t worth having in the lineup.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins went into the first intermission tied at 1-1 after only putting four shots on net, and should have had the kind of wakeup call that they needed to turn the intensity up a little bit. Instead they went through a second period where they again only put up four shots on net while falling behind by two goals headed into the final 20 minutes. The Avalanche only leveled five shots on net as well, but they scored on a pair of them and pounced all over Boston’s mistakes while playing a surprisingly disciplined, two-way game despite their explosive offensive players. This time around, the Bruins didn’t have any way to come back in the third period against a quality Colorado team that wasn’t going to fold for them.

#HaggBag: Any worries about the B's? Let's hear 'em

HONORABLE MENTION: One of the few players to put up an honest-to-goodness effort in the loss was the hard-hitting fourth liner, Chris Wagner. It was Wagner that redirected a John Moore point shot in the first period for his third goal of the season that gave the Bruins an initial lead in the game. Wagner led the Bruins with five registered hits, scored on the only shot on net he had in the game and won 5-of-10 face-offs that he took in his 12:39 of ice time. The shame was that there weren’t enough other players that rose to the level of urgency and compete that Wagner was showing throughout the game for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 – The home point streak (12-0-5) is over for the Bruins as the Avs handed them their first regulation loss on home ice this year, and their first since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues almost six months ago.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations. And live with the result. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us.” –Bruce Cassidy, lamenting the lack of urgency in the B’s game as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Avalanche.

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Highlights: Bruins can't seize momentum, fall 4-1 to Avs

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Highlights: Bruins can't seize momentum, fall 4-1 to Avs

FINAL SCORE: Avalanche 4, Bruins 1

IN BRIEF: The Bruins tied it early with a Chris Wagner tip-in off a John Moore shot from the point, but from there the Avs dictated play to hand Boston its first home loss in regulation at TD Garden in the 2019-20 season. It was a Pyrrhic victory for the Avs, though, who lost Calder Trophy favorite and former UMass star Cale Makar to injury.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 20-4-6 (46 points, 1st in Atlantic Division)

HIGHLIGHTS

WAGNER TIPS HOME MOORE’S SHOT FROM POINT

AVS LOSE MAKAR

UP NEXT:

At Ottawa, Monday, 7:30 p.m., NESN

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