Civian: The man who saved the Bruins' season

Sara Civian
April 26, 2018 - 3:23 am

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

It’s not every day you get to witness the best moment of someone else’s life, but it’s such a specific joy that you tend to know when it’s happening.

While all eyes were on Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak to spark a Game 7 comeback, Jake DeBrusk was still waiting. There’d been so much effort poured in, shift-by-shift, game by game, unappreciated forecheck after unappreciated forecheck.

That all paid off in team wins, and his efforts were as important a component to the Bruins making the playoffs as any. Sure, there was his season-opening goal against the Predators, but there was no consequential moment.

Then came two in his first-ever Game 7, and they weren’t just big. They were the biggest.

It was the first time a Bruins rookie scored two goals in a Game 7 since Marchand in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Incidentally, they came right when Marchand needed some help.

Jake DeBrusk -- not Marchand, not Bergeron, not Pastrnak -- saved the Bruins’ season in their 7-4 win over the Maple Leafs. And his moments crept up so inconspicuously that maybe even the 21-year-old Edmonton boy himself was rattled.

He was at the beginning of the game, at least.

“Insane. It was insane,” he said. “When they scored their first goal I was like ‘Oh my goodness,’ but tried to focus on the next shift.”

If the Leafs didn’t have stronger language for DeBrusk’s first goal, they definitely did for his game-winner.

“I didn’t even see it go in I just heard the crowd go pretty nuts and it was a very special feeling,” he said, “...especially making it 5-4. At that point I knew as soon as we got the lead there, the next goal we we’re going to be fine.”

The loudest words, though, were reserved for the fans who witnessed the first thing DeBrusk did after he transitioned from promising rookie to Game 7 hero:

“I will never forget the noise that crowd made,” he said.

If he wasn’t sold on Boston before, well, that GIF is worth all the words. If Boston wasn’t sold on him, well, when was the last time TD Garden was that loud?

“I just wanted to get out on the ice again,” he said of his initial reaction. “I’d stay there forever if I could.”

That’s exactly what is so hard to capture about DeBrusk’s game. You could rattle off every advanced analytic in the book, but nothing would quite nail that it genuinely looks like he wants to stay on the ice forever. He’s happy to pursue the puck. He's happy to do whatever the team happens to need from him, really.

Frederik Andersen's only real problem area was right around the net? You could find DeBrusk right around the net.

“There’s something inside of him that not many guys have,” fellow hustler Torey Krug attempted to explain it. “He hounds the puck. He stays on it. We saw it all throughout the series, whether it was up in Toronto, that play he made where he’s climbing down the boards and three guys take a run at him and he hits a guy back door. When he wants it he’s going to get it.”

DeBrusk had five goals and two assists in Round One. He chalks some of that up to the mere fact that he didn’t have a target on his back in a series of match ups.

“The top line will do their thing, and you know that,” he said. “...they get more attention than anyone in the league. It’s impressive they still get the puck on the net. But where I’m at in the lineup, I know that they don’t expect me to carry the offense.”

Maybe the ringleader of the comeback was unexpected, but the comeback itself?

“I had no doubt,” DeBrusk said. “No doubt at all.”


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