BOSTON (CBS) — This season has been one big struggle for Jake DeBrusk. Ahead of Thursday night’s game against the New York Rangers, the Bruins forward said that, plain and simple, he has not been having much fun this year.

“The games aren’t fun when you’re struggling,” DeBrusk admitted in his Thursday morning Zoom session.

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Goal-less streaks will do that to a player who has plenty of experience lighting the lamp, and DeBrusk has had his share of those this season. Heading into Thursday night, it had been 13 games since DeBrusk last scored a goal. His season-long struggles have led to Bruce Cassidy dropping the talented winger out of Boston’s top six, a spot he had claimed for his own for much of the last three seasons.

Finding the back of the net is a great way to bust out of a slump, but it’s not the only way. Aggressive, hard-nosed play is the first step, since it usually leads to scoring chances. That’s exactly how DeBrusk played Thursday night, battling for loose picks and sticking his nose in just about everything, drawing a pair of penalties in the first period. It led to three shots over his 17 shifts, playing alongside Sean Kuraly and Nick Ritchie.

DeBrusk missed on a few scoring chances in the first period, but he was not going to be denied in the second. When the Bruins came up with the puck in their own end, David Krejci fed DeBrusk with a slick pass off the boards as the winger streaked through the neutral zone. DeBrusk managed to stay onside, and the breakaway ended with him casually beating Igor Shesterkin upstairs. That smooth top-shelf finish gave Boston a 3-0 lead, and got the monkey off DeBrusk’s back.

DeBrusk had a massive grin as he got daps from his teammates, and it once again looked like the 24-year-old was having some fun after he netted just his fifth goal of the season.

“We’re trying to get him to help us win,” Cassidy said after the 4-0 win. “The goal tonight, good read by him to get behind their D on a turned-over puck in D-zone coverage. Good job, good stick. … He had a similar opportunity the other night in Jersey, the goalie made the save.

“But at the end of the day, if he can pitch in with some goals and help us win in other areas of the game, I’ll have more fun coaching and hopefully he’ll have more fun playing,” added Cassidy.

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Boston has three more games remaining before the postseason, so the team will try its best to keep DeBrusk’s confidence on the upswing. The Bruins already figure to be a dangerous team during the playoffs, and if DeBrusk shakes out of his slump when it matters the most, the Boston offense will be all the more lethal. Staff