( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Craig Eagles | Follow Me On Twitter @Eags37

What’s wrong with Jake DeBrusk? That’s the $3.675-million-dollar question. The highly skilled gritty two-way winger that Bruins nation has become so accustomed to seeing over the past four years is nowhere to be found. 

Obviously, it was great to see #CELLYSZN finally get his first of the season a few nights ago, but he’s been almost invisible this season. The former first-rounder and 20 goal scorer seems to have lost his confidence and jam, which is a brutal combination considering that’s his identity. 

The easy-going charismatic scoring winger doesn’t appear to be having too much fun playing the game right now. DeBrusk has experienced his share of ups and downs throughout his tenure in Boston, but this has to be one of his lowest. One goal and two assists in 11 games just aren’t cutting it. Clearly, everyone wants to know why DeBrusk is struggling, but maybe we have to rephrase the question to what?  

It’s not hard to see why he is struggling; the bigger question is what has happened to the four-year veteran to cause him to play this way. Bruce Cassidy has tried just about everything to get DeBrusk going but to no avail. DeBrusk has played with just about every center the B’s have. Even a quick spin up on the top line wasn’t enough to get him fired up. 

Is DeBrusk banged up? 

He might be dealing with a nagging injury, but that hasn’t been reported at all, which one would assume would have been discussed or leaked long ago if it was the case. The 24-year-old’s struggles continued last night. Poor decisions and uninspired play caused him to only see 14:35 minutes of ice time versus the Flyers. 

In a 7-3 victory, Jake DeBrusk had zero’s to the right of his name on the stat sheet. How many times have we seen DeBrusk take the puck hard to the net this season? Not very many, I think you could count that on one hand. How many times have we seen Jake go to the dirty areas of the ice, win puck battles and create offense? Those times have been few and far between. It’s really hard to believe, but the once creative, the skilled winger is playing soft and turning pucks over at an alarming rate. 

When Jake DeBrusk is engaged and motivated, he’s worth every single penny of his $3.675-million contract. Every young player has their struggles from time to time, but this is extremely concerning right now, given the condensed season. DeBrusk sees his time on ice, and his role with the team diminished rapidly. The new-look five-forward power-play unit had to be a tough pill to swallow for him, but the writing had to be on the wall when it came to that format. DeBrusk is an extremely valuable asset to possess when firing on cylinders.  What about his speed? That appears to be gone as well. 

Over the past four seasons, we have grown accustomed to seeing DeBrusk blow by defenders like they are standing still while on route to scoring goals. All signs would point to him having a lingering injury which could be the cause for the recent lackluster play. The Edmonton, Alberta product’s speed, agility, explosiveness, and puck skills in traffic are usually his strongest attributes, but that’s certainly hasn’t been the case so far. 

When former Bruin power forward Milan Lucic would struggle, he created momentum by being physical. We haven’t seen that from DeBrusk at all. He’s missing defensive assignments, sticking, checking, stopping and starts, not being hard on pucks, and isn’t getting in on the forecheck. To be brutally honest, when is the last time you have seen Jake throw a solid body check? 

We all know how difficult it must be when a player lacks confidence, but that should never affect a player’s work ethic and effort. Jake DeBrusk is a high character heart and soul type player and the person who just happens to be struggling to find his game right now. 

Now isn’t the time to panic; it’s the time to rededicate, work harder, and trust a young player to battle through. What’s wrong with Jake? For now, there’s only one person that knows the answer to that question; let’s hope he figures it out soon.