It was less than two weeks ago that the New Jersey Devils decided to make Damien Brunner a healthy scratch against the Red Wings. He made his NHL debut with Detroit last season, but after a streaky campaign, they balked at his asking price.
That had to make being forced to sit out hurt all the more because it suggested that Detroit’s decision was the right one. Perhaps that’s what sparked him.
“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you come back up,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer told the Star-Ledger. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that being out against Detroit here was probably rock bottom for him. Not something we wanted to do, but to his credit he hasn’t felt sorry for himself. He picked himself up and he’s playing the best hockey since he’s been here.”
Brunner has four goals and six points in his last four games, including an impressive effort that paid off late in the second period of last night’s game against Ottawa.
He fought Senators defenseman Jared Cowen for the puck and the blueliner lost his stick in the process. That opened up a one-on-one between him and goaltender Robin Lehner, as you can see below:
It was a controversial marker, as some argued that Brunner slashed Cowen.
“I saw the replay. From the one angle when you see his back turned it looks like a slash. But from the other side you see he lets his stick go pretty easy,” Brunner offered in his defense.
Either way, he feels he wouldn’t have even gotten himself into that situation a couple weeks ago. He lacked confidence then. That’s not an issue now.