For three straight days, Jake DeBrusk and the Bruins were able to take their minds off hockey.
Rather than pour over film during the team’s off days, DeBrusk spent the holiday break watching holiday classics like Elf, the Grinch and the Harry Potter films (an unorthodox selection, he admits, but a series that remains in regular rotation on network TV in December).
Three days may not seem like a whole lot. But 72 hours away from the rink seemed like the perfect remedy for a forward in desperate need of a reset.
“I think we all did, to be honest,” DeBrusk said Saturday of the benefit of Boston’s Christmas break. “Honestly, we didn’t like how we came into the break. But personally, I just got away from it. I was watching Christmas movies and I was enjoying myself. It was nice to be able to do that for a little bit. It was obviously three days, but that can make a world of a difference.”
The results speak for themselves on Boston’s scoresheet.
Since returning from the break, a largely uneven Bruins offensive output has doled out plenty of damage against opposing defenses — scoring nine goals in the team’s regulation wins over the Sabres and Devils.
And it should come as no surprise that Boston’s recent scoring salvo has been sparked at the same time DeBrusk has started to catch fire in the offensive zone.
After recording his first multipoint game of the season during Wednesday’s 4-1 win in Buffalo, DeBrusk added a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 5-2 victory over the Devils — with his second-period tally opening the floodgates of a four-goal middle frame for Boston.
As noted by 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Ty Anderson, Saturday marked the first time that DeBrusk has recorded multipoint performances in back-to-back games since Jan. 2, 2023 – Feb. 18, 2023.
In that segmented stretch last season, DeBrusk scored two goals in Boston’s Winter Classic triumph over the Penguins, missed over six weeks with a broken fibula, then returned with a two-point showing against the Islanders.
“Haven’t felt this all year,” DeBrusk said of his recent surge in production. “It’s nice to kind of be back, in that sense of things.”
DeBrusk’s resurgence is a welcome sight for a Bruins team whose offensive capabilities have largely fallen on the shoulders of David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand this season.
Entering Saturday night, DeBrusk was on pace for just 10 goals and 32 total points this season.
The 27-year-old winger’s evolution as a steady, two-way contributor allowed him to still log heavy minutes in Jim Montgomery’s lineup, even as he trudged through a sustained scoring drought.
But DeBrusk’s true value to Boston rests in his ability to generate offense (especially at 5v5 play) thanks to his nose for the net and knack for planting himself around Grade-A ice. And with DeBrusk struggling to find the back of the net, the Bruins are currently 25th in the NHL with just 67 5v5 goals this season.
This week has offered a reminder of what kind of lift DeBrusk can provide when he’s moving his feet in the offensive zone.
After setting up both of Charlie Coyle’s power-play tallies against Buffalo with some slick feeds in high-danger ice, DeBrusk opened the scoring for his team on Saturday by driving to the Devils’ doorstep and tucking a puck past Vitek Vanecek on his backhand.
“I think it started in Buffalo. You can tell he’s very, very noticeable — when his speed is noticeable, you know he’s on top of his game,” Montgomery said postgame. “And he’s doing a lot of little good things. That goal he scored is a goal-scorer’s goal. Not a lot of people take that puck to the far post, because you got to have courage to do that. And that’s a great play by him.”
DeBrusk, who also added a primary helper with a feed on the rush that led to Pastrnak’s power-play strike on Saturday, has a ways to go to erase the sour sentiment brought upon by weeks of steady play — with little to show for on the scoresheet.
But sometimes, all it takes is a puck or two sailing into twine (coupled with a Christmas movie marathon) to get on a roll.
The Bruins will welcome it, to say the least.
“Even if you get opportunities and you’re creating stuff and it just doesn’t find the back of the net or guys aren’t scoring on the breakaway when you spring them, you just want that because you want to be helping your team as much as much as you can,” Charlie Coyle said of DeBrusk’s game earlier this week. “He’s such a big factor with his speed, and then he’s going to make those little plays and get to the net and it’s gonna go in for him.
“But sometimes it’s just those games where he was the one dishing it out and making those good plays right to the slot. They turn into goals. It’s a great sign. But he’s a great player. He’s gonna make those plays and that can definitely help out, confidence wise, where [he says], ‘Hey, I’m making plays, we’re finishing.’ It makes you feel good.”
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