How Bruins LW Jake DeBrusk is handling his season-opening goal drought

Matt Kalman
October 18, 2019 - 5:33 pm

This was supposed to be the year Jake DeBrusk found his way into the upper-echelon of scoring left wings, surpassed at least 30 goals and earned himself a hefty raise as restricted free agent either during this season or in the summer.

Instead he’s found himself in the doldrums.

One season after scoring 27 goals (as part of a 42-point season) in 68 games, DeBrusk has gone the first seven games of this season without a goal. He enters the Bruins’ showdown with Toronto on Saturday with just one assist to his name.

To hear him tell it, he’s actually beyond frustrated just a little more than two weeks since the first regular season drop of the puck.

“Yeah, frustration, it’s past that to be honest with you,” DeBrusk said after practice on Friday at Warrior Ice Arena. “I’m just trying to stay even-keel and try to play my game. That’s one thing that’s been kind of one of those issues for me personally is I haven’t found my game at all this year. Even with the Colorado game, having that [goal> disallowed and everything like that, that’s in the past.

“You look at statistics, different things like that. I think that I’m not really helping myself out in a lot of categories. You know it’s one of those things that you get frustrated and then you get to a certain point where you kind of stay patient and try to understand that your time will come. Sometimes the game doesn’t come to you and you got to go to the game.”

The Bruins secondary scoring shortage hasn’t hurt them much yet. They’re 5-1-1 despite 14 of their 19 goals coming from David Pastrnak (8), Brad Marchand (4) and Patrice Bergeron (2). DeBrusk is supposed to be the leader among that secondary group, regardless of whether David Krejci, who’s currently out with an injury, or Charlie Coyle is his center.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy always talks about his players playing on the “inside” in order to win battles, get to the net and create true scoring chances. The Bruins aren’t getting enough of that so far from the 23-year-old DeBrusk, and Cassidy would like DeBrusk to take a page from the book of the team’s current leading scorer.

“You look at Pasta’s goals, he scored some beauties, but he also worked to get inside position against Anaheim the other night. He’s around the front of the net, recovering pucks, so it’s both. And I think Jake has the ability to do that, get greasy and score a nice goal,” Cassidy said.

A return to Toronto could rekindle DeBrusk’s nose for the net, something he showed when he scored a crucial goal at Scotiabank Arena last spring in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round.

But to score any type of goal DeBrusk is going to have to change his mentality. Although DeBrusk is averaging more shots per game (2.57) than his previous two NHL seasons, he thinks he’s been too passive and that’s reflected in the three shots on net he has attempted the past two games.

Unselfishness is for nuns, not players expected to find the back of the net on a regular basis in the NHL.

“I think that I need to hold onto it more, maybe attack more and be more selfish with my shot selection,” he said.

We'll see if there's a newer, more productive Jake DeBrusk when the Bruins hit the ice in Toronto on Saturday.

Related: