Boston Bruins News: Jake DeBrusk return will be welcome relief

Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

If you believe the reporting coming out of TD Garden, and from the man himself, reinforcements may be on the way very shortly for the Boston Bruins. Out since suffering a leg injury in the B’s Winter Classic victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jake DeBrusk is trending towards returning on Thursday against the Nashville Predators.

Of course, in that Winter Classic, DeBrusk had one of his best games of the season, scoring both third period goals to lift the B’s to their 2-1 victory. Adding to the legend, he actually scored the eventual game winner on the newly broken leg.

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For Boston Bruins, Jake DeBrusk an unexpected key cog

A little more than a year ago, DeBrusk’s days in Boston seemed to be numbered. Former head coach Bruce Cassidy had no trust in him, and the talented winger had decided to request a trade. But then, a need for scoring depth shifted David Pastrnak to the second line, opening up DeBrusk to first line minutes and a new lease on life in Boston.

And then this year, with Jim Montgomery now in charge of the Boston Bruins, DeBrusk was playing the most consistent hockey of his career. And better yet, locking down that 1RW spot with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand opened up so much else with the lineup, namely permanent playing time for David Pastrnak and David Krejci. Losing DeBrusk made all of that more difficult, even if only for a month and a half.

Without Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins have taken a (small) step back

That’s not to say the B’s exactly struggled, but things didn’t come as easily. When DeBrusk went down, the Bruins sat at 28-4-4, for an otherworldly points percentage of 83.3 percent. With #74 on the shelf the Bruins have gone 12-4-1, for a points percentage of 73.5 percent.. Still amazing, in fact it would still be the highest in the league for the season, tied with the Carolina Hurricanes, but a dropoff nonetheless.

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But you could just tell, there were a few games where DeBrusk was sorely missed. His breakaway speed is always a threat, and his work down low on the powerplay is always underrated. Notice the slump the B’s powerplay has been in recently? Not entirely a coincidence in my eyes.

Maybe he turns one of their three consecutive losses at the end of January, against the Lightning, Panthers and Hurricanes, into a win. Maybe he finds a way to equalize in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. The point is, Jake DeBrusk has found a way to turn himself from a potential castoff to a game-changing player for this team. Good thing they didn’t end up trading him last year!

Boston Bruins need Jake Debrusk at full health for playoff run

Imagine reading that sentence a year and a half ago, as DeBrusk was working his way down the depth chart instead of up. But now it’s true, so I’ll say it again. The Boston Bruins need Jake DeBrusk if they want to get where we all hope they can go this spring.

He may not have any one attribute that makes him stand out, like Pastrnak’s one timer or Krejci’s passing, but he does most everything at a high level. And most of all he’s doing it with undeniable effort, and it was paying off with him hitting the back of the net consistently before he went down.

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Hopefully he really is ready to come back and he can quickly shake off the rust. Luckily, he’s got some low pressure time to get back into the swing, that’s the luxury of the position the B’s have put themselves in.

So welcome back, Jake. We’ve missed you.