BOSTON — Jake DeBrusk has no fear of the big stage.
The 21-year-old rookie just completed the first Stanley Cup playoff series of his career, and he was one of the main factors in the Boston Bruins eliminating the Toronto Maple Leafs with a thrilling first-round Game 7 victory at TD Garden.
DeBrusk scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period, giving him a share of the team lead in goals scored in the series with five. He was the Bruins’ most consistent player through the seven games, scoring at least one goal in four of the matchups.
“It was incredible. He has been a big player for our team all year,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said of DeBrusk. “You could tell he was feeling it (Wednesday night) – all series actually – he was a big player for us. When he got that speed going, he can be very dangerous with that puck, so beautiful goal by him, incredible game, and he stepped up big for our team.”
DeBrusk got the Bruins on the board with a power-play goal at 4:47 of the opening period. It tied the score 1-1 and gave the TD Garden crowd a much-needed jolt after an early Leafs goal.
The biggest play of the game was DeBrusk’s second goal. The entire sequence was a great display of his speed, strength and determination, powering to the net and scoring in a dirty area despite taking a hit from Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner.
“He scored going to the net, dirty areas,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He had some chances (Wednesday night). He didn’t score on going there. So, that’s always the first thing: get into the inside, play inside, be willing to get hit, fight for your space, and that’s playoff hockey. It’s a little more difficult to get there. So, they weren’t freebies, all of his goals. He’s around the net. He got a shot through the other night in Toronto, but the other ones here, he’s been real greasy, as advertised.
“And, he had his legs the whole series. The issue we had with Jake during the year was that consistent push, use your legs, use your feet because he’s young and he’s got them. He can really get on pucks and make people uncomfortable, so I was happy for him. He’s a good kid, he’s worked hard, and he’s really contributing for us.”
DeBrusk became the first Bruins rookie to score twice in a Game 7 since Marchand in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Just like Marchand in that incredible postseason run, DeBrusk will be an important part of the Bruins’ offense in the second round. And Boston will need all the goals it can get against a Tampa Bay Lightning team loaded with elite scorers.
With one series under his belt, DeBrusk feels pretty good about the success he and the team have enjoyed so far.
“It went pretty well. It was special. I’ll never forget this series. First playoffs,” DeBrusk said. “I was really happy to contribute. With the home crowd here, too, how the game was going, it was back-and-forth. Emotions were pretty crazy. Saying that, it was nice to get on the board and nice to help the team win.”
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports