He spotted a camo cap that looked like it would be a good gift for his father.
“I know my dad’s a big hunter,” DeBrusk said. “No cowboy hats, but I think my dad will like the camo one, for sure.”
It didn’t even take DeBrusk 21 minutes to put together a natural hat trick and his scoring outburst helped the Bruins pummel the Kings, 7-0, as if the Kings weren’t on a five-game win streak.
DeBrusk extended his scoring streak to five games with a 7-2-9 line over that stretch. It had been a while since DeBrusk went on a heater like the one he’s in the middle of right now.
Until this recent run, he hadn’t scored a goal in back-to-back games all season. His longest scoring streak for him was a stretch of four points in three games in November. Before his two-goal game against the Kraken last week, DeBrusk’s last multi-goal game was in Jan. 2020 when he scored a pair of goals against Winnipeg.
It was hard to describe the swing from not being able to buy a break to everything breaking his way.
“It’s kind of interesting,” he said. “It kind of gets in your head. It’s one of those things where it’s just the game of hockey and you need bounces — whether it’s passes or goals or whatever — to find it. But an inch here, an inch there, it’s not in the net or it’s not in the net, and it kind of makes you giggle.
“But it’s a very rewarding feeling because it’s one of those things where I had to wait for probably around three years to feel this kind of trend.”
DeBrusk earned a reputation early in his career as the kind of player who could go on scoring binges. That reputation went back to 2019, his first full season, when he scored 16 goals and notched 27 assists then gave the Bruins six goals and two assists in 12 playoff games.
Whether the label was a good thing or a bad thing depended on how many streaks he went on.
“That’s actually a funny way of looking at it,” he said. “I think it means that I have the attributes to do it, if that makes any sense. But this is the best thing in the world and it’s hard to do that every night. Even the top guys on each team have off-nights, or off-swings, or things like that, but I sure like it when things are going like this.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy looked at both sides of streakiness.
“I think streaky can work both ways,” he said. “It just depends. As long as you get on enough of them, right, and get your numbers at the end of the year. Some guys just get like that.”
“I don’t think it’s a negative thing if you eventually get your goals and points and you’re still working through your tough stretches,” he added. “When people don’t work through their tough stretches, then they’re labeled inconsistent as well. So that’s something he’ll have to sort through if he does get into one of those valleys again. But let’s enjoy the peak right now.”
DeBrusk’s first goal came barely a minute into the game. He extended his scoring streak to five games with a shot that shook loose on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Matt Grzelcyk checked the puck loose from Trevor Moore along the boards, Patrice Bergeron recovered it, and hit Brad Marchand near the Bruins’ defensive blue line. Marchand took a solid hit along the boards from Drew Doughty but was able to find DeBrusk breaking out. With only Mikey Anderson to beat, DeBrusk let a wrist shot fly. Quickly tried stopping it with his body, but by the time I realized it was still loose, it was too late.
DeBrusk’s 12th goal of the season gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at the 1:01 mark.
He scored his second goal doing all the things Cassidy said he wanted to see. DeBrusk started with the puck at center ice, made a move to the right-side board, and saw two Kings defenders, so he chipped the puck into open ice in the Bruins offensive zone.
He chased the puck from one side of the ice to the other, trying to wrestle it from Doughty. He didn’t give up when Doughty rimmed the puck back the other way. Instead, he cut off a pass from Anderson and was all by himself in the middle of the zone and finished the play with a snap shot past Quick for his second goal of the period.
“That was kind of a funny shift,” DeBrusk said. “I did feel like I kind of went all around the world there.”
But he wasn’t quite done.
“As soon as you get two, you always want us on the third,” DeBrusk said.
Just 53 seconds after the Bruins came out of the locker room for the second period, DeBrusk basically bunted a shot by Bergeron into the net for his third goal of the night. Officials took a look to see if DeBrusk deflected it above the crossbar. The call on the ice was a goal, and video review wasn’t enough to overturn it. In less than 21 minutes, DeBrusk had his first career hat trick for him.
“I thought it was close,” DeBrusk said. “It was a fast play, and I knew it was a fairly high shot. But I knew it was around that area. Obviously, as the replay showed, it was really, really close. I’ve had a lot of those go against me. So it was nice.”
Bergeron added a power-play goal at the 11:40 mark in the second period that gave the Bruins more cushion and Taylor Hall added to it at the 12:42 mark with a slap shot from 22 feet out that gave him his 12th goal of the year.
As the Bruins salted the game away in the third period, the second power play cashed in. Erik Haula worked his way in front of the net to tip in Charlie Coyle’s shot and make it 6-0. The goal was special for multiple reasons. It was Haula’s 100th career goal as well as the 200th career assist for both Coyle and Craig Smith.
Haula added another goal at the 13:39 mark, working a give and go with Hall. The Bruins matched a season-high with seven goals. Goalie Jeremy Swayman stopped all 34 shots that came his way for his third shutout of the season.
The Bruins matched their longest win streak of the season as well as their longest road win streak (4), cooling off one of the hottest teams in the league in the process.
The Bruins have three games left on their six-game road trip, finishing up their back-to-back Tuesday with a stop in Anaheim before heading to Vegas and Columbus.
“We were due for one of these nights where pucks go in the net, power play got going,” Cassidy said. “They had an off-night, we had a good night. So for us, I thought when we’re on these road trips, it was probably one you circle. In the middle of the trip, team’s playing really well, maybe you measure that game a little more.”
Between DeBrusk’s IQ, his ability to finish, his vision, his foot speed, and his 200-foot game, Cassidy has the tools there for DeBrusk to put together.
As much as the hat trick was a celebration for DeBrusk, it was a reminder of a high ceiling he’s been trying to reach since his rookie year.
“Honestly, it’s’ not a huge, dramatic change this time around,” he said. “But obviously everything’s going right. So it’s one of those things where you just want to keep it going.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at [email protected]
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism