Behind Jake DeBrusk, Bruins slowly building a second line
As the Bruins struggled out of the gate getting any type of scoring from lines two, three and four, head coach Bruce Cassidy was forced to move players around his unproductive three lines.
For three games in October, Jake DeBrusk moved over to the right side, allowing Joakim Nordstrom to slide into the left wing next to he and David Krejci. The production from the line was nonexistent, and back to the third line Nordstrom went.
Still facing the same issue earlier this week, Cassidy went back to the Nordstrom, Krejci and DeBrusk combination in Monday’s win over the Dallas Stars after getting nothing from the Heinen, Krejci and DeBrusk trio.
The line didn’t put the puck in the net against the Stars, but they were as close to scoring as you can get. The bump back up to the second line seemed to spark Nordstrom who was one of three Bruins with a team-high five shots on goal.
In Thursday’s wild 8-5 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the trio was back at it, but this time they found themselves on the scoresheet.
DeBrusk’s second period tally—a period that saw the two teams combine for eight goals—was a prime example of the line staying aggressive. After failing on a pass attempt off the boards, a diving DeBrusk kept the play alive, the puck found Nordstrom who fed it to Krejci and Krejci perfectly placed the puck on goal as DeBrusk arrived to tip it in.
Feeling like this was a play and a goal that wouldn’t have happened earlier this season, DeBrusk credits the way the line has forechecked and how the line has approached the offensive side of the game as to why things have been much better this time around.
“I think just our forechecks and how we are kind of playing the offensive zone,” said DeBrusk “I think he’s (Nordstrom) really good at tracking pucks down and helping me out on the forecheck with F2 and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”
I thought from start to finish the line was the Bruins best, especially in the third as the Bruins trailed the entire period. The line generated chance after chance with their hard work.
Going back a few games to when Heinen was manning the second line, you could see the improved play of Krejci and DeBrusk and could see the two were starting to make a difference. Maybe it was a rejuvenated Nordstrom that made the difference.
“I think he works his bag off, you can see it every shift, he’s always giving it his all. He’s a heavy player, he’s a Stanley Cup Champion, he’s been on some good teams and he’s played in the league a good amount,” DeBrusk said of Nordstrom. “Obviously as advertised, it’s what he can bring.”
After his equalizer in the beginning stages of the second period, DeBrusk struck again later in the frame on the power play, his 5th goal of the season.
I’ll be the first to tell you that on November 8, I expected more than five goals from the second-year forward, but I’ll also tell you that DeBrusk has been the Bruins best forward this year not named Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak.
“A lot of jump tonight, he was on pucks, attacking the net, going to the front of the net. He was trying to finish a few more checks when it was there. I thought his all-around game was much better. Much more dialed in, much more focused then he has been lately,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy.
DeBrusk has had just as many chances as the Pastrnaks and Bergerons, but the bounces haven’t gone his way. When the tables turn and the bounces do go his way, the floodgates should open for DeBrusk.
As a young player in the league, it’s very easy to lose focus when things are not going your way and pucks are not finding the back of the net.
“We talked to him about his habits. When you don’t score, young guys get away from it. So he got back to it tonight. It’s not necessarily the reason he got rewarded, but maybe like you said he was a little bit more focused on what he needed to do, how he generally scores his goals, going to the net,” added Cassidy. “So, good for him. He made a few plays as well.”
With his three-point performance in Thursday’s loss, Krejci increased his point total to 13, good for fourth on the team behind Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand. Quietly, Krejci is starting to turn things around for not only himself, but with the help of DeBrusk, the second line.
As the Bruins look for secondary scoring behind the Bergeron line, DeBrusk holds the key to the secondary scoring door. He know’s that two goal performances are nice and hopes that goals come more often.
He also hopes they come more often in winning efforts.
“It was nice to capitalize, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t win,” said DeBrusk. “But take the positives from this game and take the lessons that can be learned and get back at it and go full force.”
The Bruins will need DeBrusk and the rest of his teammates to be ready to go full force as the highflying Toronto Maple Leafs head into TD Garden Saturday evening.