By Nick Godin
It’s difficult to look at the abrupt halt of the National Hockey League season as a good thing – especially from the perspective of the Boston Bruins organization, who started running-away as the #1 ranked team in the league.
Players such as David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and even Charlie Coyle began showing their abilities to provide consistently on the ice, and goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak were showing no signs of slowing down momentum heading towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.
Contrary to the players mentioned above, trade deadline newcomers Nick Ritchie and Ondřej Kaše were not granted a formidable amount of time to establish chemistry with their new teammates. It will be interesting to see how the lack of opportunity to get comfortable in their new environment will affect the former Ducks’ abilities come playoff time, but as history has shown, it’s expected to be a factor.
Then there’s 23-year-old Jake DeBrusk, who could be a beneficiary of the layoff that has caused the entire league to scramble and remain active in anticipation of immediate playoff contention.
DeBrusk was not having a bad season before the COVID-19 pause, but he wasn’t having an overwhelmingly successful season, either. He was only three games away from playing 68 games (total games last season), with seven-less points. That’s not that significant of a difference, except considering that he has eight-less goals this season than he did last season, which has been the primary concern among media and fans throughout the year.
It’s not intensity, or a matter of skill vs. will – it’s purely a consistency concern that hasn’t been addressed at this particular juncture of his career. DeBrusk has been extremely clutch in his first three years with the Bruins, particularly in the playoffs. But the inconsistencies are similar to that of Tyler Seguin in his final two seasons with the Bruins before being traded to the Dallas Stars – where he would eventually develop the consistency to be an all-star in the league.
The pause of the 2020 NHL season can act as a restart opportunity for DeBrusk, who once playoffs commence will have a clean slate with the weight of the regular season off his shoulders. We continue to learn about the mental capacity of playing professional sports, and how sometimes all it takes is a new environment or new circumstances for things to go from mediocre to significantly better in short time.
Although the extensive break has impacted negatively many players who were looking to build chemistry or were having consistent success, players like Jake DeBrusk are likely to come out of the break with new perspective and new performative success.