Bruins

Vatrano, DeBrusk end goal-scoring droughts

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Vatrano, DeBrusk end goal-scoring droughts

BOSTON – On a night when the Bruins needed more from players that hadn’t been providing it lately, a couple of them came through early in a big way.

Both Jake DeBrusk (eight games) and Frank Vatrano (25 games, that dated back to last season) ended long goal-scoring droughts in the 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden. 

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With DeBrusk it was a nice play where he attacked with speed, separated Jarred Spurgeon from a puck close to the Minnesota net and then banked a puck off Ryan Suter in front on its way past Devan Dubnyk in the wild net. It was part of four shots on net and a couple of hits for DeBrusk in 16:29 and a nice little carrot for the youngster after putting in a lot of hard work in between scoring his second and third goals of the season.

It certainly looked at times like the left wing was left wide open by the Wild for Boston’s wingers to motor up and down making plays and that’s exactly what they did.

“It’s nice to see Jake [DeBrusk] get rewarded, even though it was a bit of a lucky goal. We talk about his foot speed, getting his legs underneath him, he’s attacking, winning pucks and if you get towards the net you’re going to get some of those breaks so good for him,” said Bruce Cassidy of his rookie winger. “I think we’ve wanted to play that way. I think in training camp you start to see some of it when Jake [DeBrusk] was there, he can motor. Frank [Vatrano] can go in straight lines. I think it just worked out that we’re able to hunt down pucks.

“I talked about our breakouts earlier. We want to be low support in our zone, not getting out of there too soon. I think earlier in the year we talked about some of those high flips, skating on to them, so we’ve balanced that better now. Being in our zone when it’s appropriate to support it low and then get it going when our defensemen have a chance to get it out. So that worked out well for us tonight and that’s all it was. Nothing to do with I think how Minnesota played, it was more about the personnel we have and the situations that have presented themselves.”

Similarly, Vatrano played with straight-line speed all night and snapped in a bit of a knuckling puck that was on edge from long distance and dinged off the post and then off Devan Dubnyk for his first goal of the season in his 10th game. The goal was coming off being a healthy scratch for each of the previous two games and the hope is that it can set off the 23-year-old that has the talent and shot/release to go on a bit of an offensive binge with a little more confidence.

“[Vatrano] had a lot of pep in his step. I mean, obviously, he’s got a lot of pride. He didn’t like being scratched from the lineup. I think the goal really helps him. He’s a goal scorer and it’s been a while so when you get a break like that and you shoot enough times, it got him excited to play the rest of the game,” said Cassidy. “He’s been working on that part of his game in fairness to him, being a complete player, and it’s a work in progress for a lot of guys, a lot of young guys. So we liked it. We need secondary scoring and he was able to provide some of that.”

The trick for both now is to get each of those revitalized players into a stretch where they can heat up offensively and help offset the Bruins missing three of their top six wingers with David Krejci, Brad Marchand and David Backes all out. 

Deja vu all over: Gionta again weighing options of hockey future

Deja vu all over: Gionta again weighing options of hockey future

If you asked Brian Gionta how his summer is going, his response might channel baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra--it’s like deja vu all over again.

It was just one year ago that Gionta was without an NHL contract and weighing his future in hockey, but at least then the now-39-year-old could look forward to February’s Winter Olympics, where he was planning on captaining the United States’ men’s hockey team.

Now, however, Gionta, who has played parts of 16 seasons in the NHL, is considering making his mark on the sport in a new way--coaching.

The Buffalo Sabres, Gionta’s team for three seasons from 2014-17, asked the winger to help out with their development camp last month, opening Gionta’s mind to the reality of coaching.

“As I’m sitting here trying to contemplate where to go with my career and whether it’s at the end or not, it was good for me to get my foot in there and see what that was all about,” Gionta told NHL Tonight about the camp.

Gionta did manage to get back to the NHL following the Olympics, signing a pro-rated contract with the Bruins for the season’s final 20 games. Gionta chipped in two goals and seven points, but played just 11 minutes in the playoffs.

“I had a unique year last year with the Olympics and signing with Boston late. Had a ton of fun, was able to be around my family a lot last year,” Gionta added.

Now, as another summer of option-weighing and reality-facing pushes forward, Gionta knows at this point in his career there’s more to think about than just hockey.

“The main focus right now is my family, my kids and trying to figure out what’s best for everyone involved. I’ve had a great run, playing a long time in the NHL, and if this is the end, it’s the end.”