Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports

Jesse Gabrielle making an agitating impact for Bruins

Ty Anderson
September 22, 2017 - 1:16 pm

Brad Marchand sees a younger version of himself in Jesse Gabrielle.

To some, and depending on your personal view of Marchand (and especially if you’re a fan of another NHL team), that may not be considered a compliment. But to the Bruins, who downed the Flyers by a 2-1 overtime final on Thursday, it’s a welcomed bottom-six addition that’s seemingly put the 20-year-old Gabrielle in contention for an NHL roster spot through the first three games of the preseason.

“He’s a great kid,” Marchand, a player that Gabrielle calls his favorite, said. “You watch him out there tonight, getting everyone off their game out there. It was a lot of fun to watch, and, you know, it’s nice to have guys like that on a team.

“It’s fun when they’re on the team and you hate on the other team.”

And it didn’t take long to figure out just why the Flyers seemed to hate Gabrielle.

It was at the 18-second mark of the first period that Gabrielle smashed Philadelphia forward Travis Konecny with a borderline dirty hit at center ice. The Flyers were irate with the hit, and though Gabrielle was penalized on the play, it was clear that the Flyers were bothered, and they let Gabrielle know it whenever possible. It would not be his only impact of the night, either, as Gabrielle finished the night with an effective two shots on goal in just 10:11 of time on ice (1:43 of which coming with the B’s shorthanded).

“The whole game it was going good,” Gabrielle admitted. “I was getting underneath a lot of their guys’ skin. A lot of NHL guys were coming after me and it was a lot of fun.

“I thought I played a good game. Good scoring chances, a couple of 2-on-1s. It would’ve been nice to capitalize on them. But I think that I was playing the right way and like I said, it’s something you learn from. A guy like Marchy and Zee and those guys came, and you know Marchy likes to play like that too, so he came up and gave me some encouraging words. And like I said, it’s something you learn from. It is what it is.”

When immersing a player of Gabrielle’s caliber into the NHL, coaches often focus on the energy that can come with what it is that they do. And once that comes, and once they become a physical distraction for the opposition, that’s when the skills can begin to shine and make ‘em mad in other ways. (Look at what Marchand did when he first came on the scene in 2010, going from a fourth-line speedster to a game-changing top-liner by the end of the season.) And there’s no doubt that Gabrielle can bring both.

But as all agitators do -- like Marchand learned in 2010, and even Anton Blidh learned a bit last year in his NHL cameos last season -- Gabrielle learned his limitations as his strong Garden showing came to a crashing halt when was whistled for an interference minor and a 10-minute misconduct for grabbing a player’s stick from the bench.

“Another guy was on the ice and his stick came across the bench and he gave me a little stick tap. Instinctively, I grabbed for a second,” Gabrielle, who would later repeat that it was something he wouldn’t let happen again, explained after the win.

“Granted it should be a nothing play, but I got caught and it is what it is.”

“They don’t give you a whole lot of room out there, even early on they were all over him. You know, you say one or two things out there and they’re really clamping down on him,” Marchand said in defense of Gabrielle. “They were watching him all game, refs were in there tight on him during the whistle and stuff like that. So, makes it tough for him to do his thing but, he played his role well and had a great game.”

“Here’s a guy who walks on the edge, and I thought played a very good hockey game,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “At ice level, he had a few other guys frustrated. If that is what makes him tick and he can stay on the right side of the line, then we’re ok with it. But clearly he crossed it tonight. I think if as a young guy, you try to take on the officials in the National Hockey League, you are going to lose, and he lost [Thursday].”

But losing with the referees does not equate to losing with the Bruins for Gabrielle.

At least not yet, with one goal and four shots in two preseason games, an increased role developing and his name still very much involved in the battle for an NHL job out of camp.

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