EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Bruins will be without Jake DeBrusk for their West Coast trip, if not longer.
A team spokesman said team doctors were still determining the extent of DeBrusk’s injury, which happened when he took a Matt Grzelcyk shot off the left leg in Monday’s Winter Classic.
Replays show he took a blow at the end of the game, as well, when he was struck by a shot by Evgeni Malkin.
The club said it would offer more on DeBrusk’s status Thursday morning.
A report from Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli said DeBrusk had a fractured fibula, which could knock him out of the lineup for several weeks. A message to DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, was not immediately returned.
So if that is accurate, DeBrusk’s resurgent season has seen him play hero at Fenway Park while playing on a broken leg. He scored two goals after taking friendly fire from Grzelcyk.
It had some observers thinking of Gregory Campbell, whose gutsy penalty-kill effort on a broken right fibula in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final also came against the Penguins.
“I did not know he was actually hurt at all,” coach Jim Montgomery said after Wednesday’s practice. “I saw him wince when he took the shot, but then he scored right after. I used him in the last minute of play. I was trying to get him his hat trick, going for the empty net. I didn’t think there was anything wrong.”
After the Bruins’ 2-1 win, Montgomery told reporters that DeBrusk was “tougher than people think” and “more committed than people are aware.” He said Wednesday those comments weren’t about No. 74 playing through a busted leg.
“I was talking more, not so much the physical toughness, but the mental toughness he has,” Montgomery said. “He plays with two superstars [Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron], elite players in the league. He makes me laugh — say they don’t have a good rush in practice, he’ll come back and if he screwed up, he’ll say, ‘Good rush, good rush, eh?’ He has the ability to inject humor when he knows it’s time to dig in, which I appreciate.”
Digging in against a strong Kings club without DeBrusk will be tougher. He is second on the Bruins in goals (16) and tied for third in scoring (30 points in 36 games).
Montgomery was planning to move David Pastrnak into DeBrusk’s spot on the No. 1 line, with Taylor Hall joining David Krejci’s line as a left wing, and Pavel Zacha switching to the right side.
“We used [Zacha] as a left winger early in the season, and when he moved to right wing, I thought he made more plays,” Montgomery said. “He’s very comfortable playing either [wing].”
Meanwhile, Chris Wagner was preparing to head to California. The hit-first winger from Walpole was not in the lineup for Providence’s game Wednesday night in Bridgeport. After being waived before opening night, the 31-year-old has nine goals and two assists 27 AHL games.
His only varsity minutes over the last two seasons came at the end of last season, when he was recalled for the regular season finale in Toronto. He recorded a game-high 11 hits and two shots in 15:57 of ice time. That earned him a look in the playoffs against Carolina. He played in three games without a point.
The DeBrusk news was a bummer, but the Bruins were still riding high from the Winter Classic.
“So much better when you win that,” Charlie Coyle said. “It’d be such a downer if not.”
It has given the California road trip — Los Angeles on Thursday, San Jose on Saturday, Anaheim on Sunday — a smooth start, and bolstered the team’s confidence.
“Another big moment that we got done,” Coyle said. “Another big game we got done along the way in a special year.”
Montgomery thought the experience of coming through with a win, with all the pressure of hosting a major event, with all their family and friends in town, was great preparation for the playoffs.
“It’ll [help] us handle distractions,” he said. “To win it? You’re going to remember it the rest of your life.”
Another part they’ll remember: the thunderous roar at Fenway. Coyle was using his hands to show how the rumble came from the heavens and blanketed the ice.
“I don’t think you can compare it to anything in NHL buildings,” Montgomery said. “It’s like a roar is coming over the top of you. You’re being engulfed. It’s coming down from the sky. I get chills thinking about it now.”
Bergeron, typically understated, commented after Monday’s game that it’s OK to embrace it: these Bruins have something unique.
“You have him saying that, believing that – what do you think we’re going to believe?” Coyle said. “And then you just ride it.”
The World Junior Championship game between Czechia and Sweden was of high interest in the Bruins’ room after practice. In the Czechs’ 2-1 overtime win, Bruins prospect Fabian Lysell recorded one shot on goal for the Swedes. Lysell, the team’s top-line right wing, did not see the ice in OT … The Kings (22-13-6) are solidly in second position in the Pacific, and third in the West. Beginning with a Dec. 15 shootout win in Boston, they are 7-1-1 in their last nine, with five of those games going to overtime or a shootout … Netminder Pheonix Copley has been a revelation, winning his last six starts. Since his Dec. 6 season debut, he is 9-1-0 with a 2.52 goals against average and .908 save percentage.