For the second time this season, Bruce Cassidy is healthy scratching Jake DeBrusk.
And for the second time this season, Cassidy is doing it because he wants to see a better effort from the Boston Bruins winger.
DeBrusk lately has been on the third line right wing with Nick Ritchie and Charlie Coyle, two guys that have dealt with scoring droughts of their own at times this season. The end result hasn’t been great for DeBrusk, who has posted just two assists in the eight games since the NHL trade deadline.
Given how key of a player DeBrusk is for the Bruins when he’s on, healthy scratching him is not a decision the Bruins take lightly. Sometimes, it’s necessary, though.
“We just need a higher compete level,” Cassidy said over Zoom ahead of Tuesday’s morning skate. “Every player is at a different place in their career here, and we just talked to him about the standard we expect him to play to. Everyone’s going to have an off night, but that’s the message: It’s not about individual stats, it’s about do you help this team win? And in order to do that, if guys aren’t scoring — and I’ll put him in that category, but there are a few others, for sure — then help us win.
“We’re in the home stretch here, we need whatever it takes, player 1 through 20 in the lineup that particular night to help us win. Make sure we get into the playoffs and then we’ll worry about what seed we are, but get to our game every night. We feel if we play to our standard, play to our level, play to our game, we will get in. And from there, who knows what happens.
“So, that’s the messaging to him, he’s not alone in terms of his numbers not being where they want to be. But like I said, at this time of year, that has to be secondary and playing for the crest in the front and second effort and compete level needs to be higher for him. And like I said, he’s not alone, there are a few others, but that’s the decision we’re making tonight.”
Earlier this season when DeBrusk was healthy scratched, it got the message through in a good way. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon in the ensuing game and became a more productive offensive player.
Certainly, Cassidy is hoping the latest scratch leads to the same response, just sustained longer.