BOSTON - There is never a good time or reason to be injured. But for the past two weeks, Jake DeBrusk has done his best to make the most of his time on the shelf with a lower-body injury.
After a slow start to his third NHL campaign, DeBrusk was starting to gain some traction with goals in back-to-back games as the team arrived in Montreal for a tilt with the Canadiens on Nov. 5.
DeBrusk played over 17 minutes in the Bruins' 5-4 loss to the Canadiens, but awoke the following morning in discomfort after "hyperextending my leg in a way" on his second shift of the game, which resulted in an ailment that has now forced to him to miss the last five games.
Despite the disappointment, the 23-year-old has opted to use his time off the ice to reflect on his performance and pinpoint what he can shore up upon his return.
"Take a step back and use this time to be more mature with what will be coming up whenever I play next," said DeBrusk, who practiced in full on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. "Injuries are all mental, I feel like. I've had different things, but this is my first time going through something like his.
"I used the time to reflect on certain things and kind of rejuvenate myself in a way. Hasn't been fun in the gym - not gonna lie - they've been bagging me pretty good. But makes me more excited to get on the ice."
Video: DeBrusk talks with media following practice on Monday
DeBrusk has been termed a game-time decision for Tuesday night's contest with the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, but Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy indicated that he anticipates the winger will be in the lineup barring any setbacks.
"Feeling good, feeling pretty close to game ready," said DeBrusk, who has three goals and three assists in 15 games this season. "First practice with the boys…just nice to be back on the ice. Just missing the game, so it was nice to be able to skate with them today. Felt pretty good out there. Looking upwards."
Boston has been faced with a rash of injuries of late with DeBrusk joining Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Brett Ritchie, David Backes, Karson Kuhlman, and Zach Senyshyn on the shelf. Kevan Miller and John Moore - both working their way back from offseason surgery - also remain out of the lineup.
"It's been tough watching these games lately since I've been out. Hard to watch [games], but the boys have been battling. You just want to get back on the ice as fast as possible," said DeBrusk. "It's opportunity [for others]. That's the biggest thing…next man up and just try to get the job done. We miss those guys, we all want to come back as fast as possible. Hopefully I start that trend."
It appears that DeBrusk could be doing just that. Here are the latest updates on Boston's other injuries, according to Cassidy:
- Bergeron (lower body) | Did not skate, but traveled to New Jersey. Will be a game-time decision.
- Krug (upper body) | Skated before practice, return could come later this week.
- Miller (knee) | In the midst of scheduled time off, trending toward a return next week.
- Ritchie (upper body) | Practiced and traveled to New Jersey. Will be a game-time decision.
- Backes (upper body), Kuhlman (leg), Senyshyn (lower body) | Not yet skating.
Gaunce, Vaakanainen Recalled
After being assigned to Providence on Sunday along with Trent Frederic and Paul Carey, blue liner Urho Vaakanainen was recalled once again on Monday morning. With Krug sidelined, the 20-year-old Finland native has played three games for Boston and is averaging over 17 minutes of ice time.
Veteran forward Brendan Gaunce was also recalled from the P-Bruins and practiced with the team on Monday. The 25-year-old, signed to a two-way contract over the summer, has seven points (four goals, three assists) in 11 games for Providence this season.
The 6-foot-2 left shot has skated in 117 career NHL games, totaling 15 points (six goals, nine assists) all with the Vancouver Canucks from 2015-19.
Should Bergeron, DeBrusk, and Ritchie all play against the Devils, Gaunce is unlikely to be in the lineup on Tuesday night.
Video: Cassidy talks power play, gives updates
Monday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk - Par Lindholm - Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen - Connor Clifton
John Moore - Steven Kampfer
According to Cassidy, Rask will start in goal on Tuesday against the Devils.
Video: Marchand talks about power play, shootout