Bruins

As more lineup regulars return, spotlight falls on Jake DeBrusk to break through

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

With David Krejci back in the fold, there is reason for some optimism among Boston's forward corps.

Nick Ritchie, one of Boston's top surprises this season, has been a power-play weapon for the B's in his first full season with the Original Six club — but has also gained some traction in Boston's top six, ranking fourth on the club with seven goals in 19 games.

After a dormant stretch, Charlie Coyle has settled back into a groove (four points in last four games) as Boston's stand-in 2C, with the veteran pivot and his regular linemate in Craig Smith now afforded easier matchups on the third line once again. No longer just regarded as a pure scrapper, Trent Frederic has emerged as a dependable bottom-six regular this year, tallying two goals in his last four games.

And even on a fourth line that has been put on the ropes this season, there stands plenty of intrigue in terms of what rookie Jack Studnicka can offer that checking unit at the pivot position. 

Of course, Bruins fans have been down this road plenty of times before when it comes to hoping for multiple breakthroughs up front outside of that top line. But for the first time in awhile, it does seem as though multiple skaters are at least trending in the right direction when it comes to sparking the B's secondary scoring.

Of course, not all of them are in the same boat — namely Jake DeBrusk.

Hot-and-cold stretches have plagued DeBrusk throughout his career, but this current drought is awfully hard on the eyes.

One goal in 14 games — including zero at 5v5 play. Boston has been outscored, 7-5, in his 166:55 of 5v5 ice time. A 3.3 shooting percentage.

While there are still multiple details the Bruins must still iron out to get back their winning ways of January and early February, the spotlight has now focused firmly on DeBrusk to produce — with the ceiling on Boston's 5v5 scoring output stunted for however long his scoring slump endures.

While the lack of tangible production is eye-opening when it comes to DeBrusk's struggles this season, perhaps what's most concerning to Bruce Cassidy is that the 24-year-old winger has rarely popped on the film by doing the little things that lead to