In what he described as ‘clean slating’, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk downplayed what was a strong preseason effort.
To some degree, that was understanding. DeBrusk had experienced those mini-sugar highs last season, only to end up in his own head or the press box (not sure what’s worse in the middle of a pandemic) and find himself back at square one. But with these games finally meaning something for all involved, and with DeBrusk on the board (and for the game-winning goal, no less), the one-time down-and-out winger couldn’t help but acknowledge the obvious.
Celly szn is back.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) October 17, 2021
Jake DeBrusk is on the board. pic.twitter.com/wLVVl6hccn
“Seems like the mindset’s working,” DeBrusk, who has previously acknowledged some struggles with his mentality last year, admitted. “It’s been nice to score in front of a full TD Garden.”
But this was more than mindset.
This was DeBrusk returning to his roots of high-danger living as a goal-scoring threat.
“Well, that’s part of his game, too, is driving wide,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the victory. “Foligno did it [and] he did it. That line will be hard to play against if they’re attacking like that. And I think they were legit, clean plays. It’s not like we’re trying to bury a goalie. We’re just taking pucks to the net.”
“It’s definitely a focus,” DeBrusk said of his return to the danger areas. “I think that’s [somewhere] that I’ve always scored goals. That’s where I’ve scored all my goals throughout my career and even my life. I’m good in front of the net, and obviously a lot [of the] right things have to happen. You need some bounces as well. Just trying to force the issue, trying to get there, not just stand in front of the net, but push the pace to attack. It’s all about an attack mentality right now.”
“It was simply playing behind their D, winning a footrace, creating that second-effort play to create a turnover and then it ends up on his stick in the slot,” Cassidy said. “So that’s what we’re trying to preach: You’ll get rewarded a lot if you’re able to make some of those plays. We make a play to Nick and all of a sudden Jake’s in a good spot and he gets rewarded.”
What the Bruins liked most about DeBrusk’s Night 1 breakthrough was his ability to stay engaged and keep his legs moving after a penalty-filled middle frame limited him to just four shifts. That regeneration, or the ability for DeBrusk to stay committed to creating his own bounce, is something that has been a problem in the past.
With new linemates, however, the movement did not stop.
“Leaning on Nick and Erik has been very helpful for me,” said DeBrusk. “With two veteran guys like that, they just know just to stick with the program, and they kept telling me that in my ear, and it was nice that we could all contribute.”
But it was especially nice to get No. 74 back on the board.
“Jake’s a guy that feeds off confidence and he has it right now,” Brad Marchand offered. “But even the way he’s carrying himself off the ice, he has a much better energy about him and more excitement this year. He’s a guy we need to rely on if we’re going to go far. He can be such a difference maker with his speed and ability to pucks in around the net like you saw tonight.”
“When Jake’s in a good place, he’s got a personality, he’s a good kid, and he’s good for a locker room,” Cassidy said. “So part of being in a good place is usually you feel good about your game and tonight he should.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-1 final at TD Garden…
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.