Bruins want DeBrusk to shoot more after memorable passed-up chance

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jake DeBrusk was still left at a little bit of a loss a couple of days later to explain why he passed up a point blank shot at the Columbus net in Boston’s Game 2 double-overtime loss.

It became an immediate talking point on Twitter and over social media given the damning video of a wide open DeBrusk in the slot and facing the net with the puck on his stick, and the talented young left winger opting to dish rather than drive it to the net.

Perhaps it was a little bit of over-thinking things while facing a goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky who’s been excellent thus far in the series against Boston, and some of it was deferring to a sniper like David Pastrnak calling for the puck on a drop pass.

Bruce Cassidy clearly wants to DeBrusk to get back to a little more of an aggressive, shoot-first mentality rather than shrinking away from those kinds of scoring chances after kicking in a career-high 27 goals this season.

“Jake has some of those attributes that will help you score in the playoffs. He’ll get inside and he’ll take a hit, and take a slash to get in there. He just has to do it a little more often right now,” said Cassidy, who during this series and the tail end of the Leafs has series has replaced DeBrusk on the power play with Marcus Johansson. “I don’t have a great reason why he hasn’t lit it up. I think the other night is a great example where he’s got an example chance to score, and he passes it up. Maybe it’s about becoming a little more true to himself and how he played all year. That’s a shoot-first mentality.”

DeBrusk hasn’t been completely silent, obviously, with eight shot attempts in the first couple of games against Columbus. But the production still isn’t there for a winger who poured in five goals in the first round of the playoffs last season, and remains a key figure for Boston’s secondary scoring moving forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I haven’t seen the replay. I think I had a good read on it after the play. Obviously looking back on it I would like to shoot that puck,” said DeBrusk, who has one goal and just two points in nine playoff games to this point. “It probably would have been my best chance in the playoffs so far. So it was obviously frustrating and it’s something that the next time it happens I’ll for sure be shooting it.

“I just heard [Pastrnak] and you’re just trying to get [Bobrovsky] moving across. I wasn’t really thinking clearly at that time, but it was also kind of a funny play where it should have been out of the zone, then it wasn’t and then it was pretty much a breakaway. I saw Pasta to my left, thought that he was the better option and I’ve got to live with that.”

That’s certainly a bit more of a difficult burden when the Bruins end up losing a game in double-overtime when they had multiple chances to win it prior to that point. But it’s also a good lesson for DeBrusk, and for the top trio of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron with one point in the series to this point, to take the shoots when they’re presented, and to get a little more assertive with the offense while charging toward the Columbus net with more regularity.

It won’t be easy for the B’s players, of course, but it’s a better course of action than slowly allowing Bobrovsky to get in their heads and effectively scare them away from taking point-blank scoring chances at him.

“More of a simpler approach will help. Obviously he’s a very good goaltender, but the more volume we put on him will give us a better chance of scoring,” said DeBrusk. “Anytime you get in that area especially, you need to shoot the puck. When it’s a 2-on-1 or a breakdown we need to get those [shots on net] because that’s what they’re doing on their side.”

The offensive silence of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak thus far in the Columbus series has been a far more prominent problem in the minds of most watching the second-round, best-of-seven match. But don’t sleep on DeBrusk’s slumpy postseason to this point as well, and how important is to the Bruins that the streaky young left wing starts heating up again with the goal-scoring.

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