Bruins

Bjork, DeBrusk getting early looks in big spots at Bruins camp

Bjork, DeBrusk getting early looks in big spots at Bruins camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – As expected, the talented kid forwards are going to get long looks up front in training camp for the Bruins. 

Anders Bjork was skating at right wing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in the first on-ice session of camp at Warrior Ice Arena and similarly, Jake DeBrusk was at left wing along with David Krejci and Danton Heinen in the second session on Friday.

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It’s expected that Heinen will be moved around in favor of David Pastrnak on Saturday when the newly signed Czech right winger reports to camp. That means both young forward prospects, Bjork and DeBrusk, are going to get extended looks in top-six spots and get the best chance to win those jobs that are up for grabs at this point.

As far as Bjork goes, the Bruins hope the speedy, smart and skilled winger can pick up right where he left off at Notre Dame after posting 21 goals and 52 points in 39 games last season for the Fighting Irish. Certainly, things looked good on the first day of camp with the Bruins comfortable putting a talented youngster in something of an ideal spot skating with two of the best hockey players in the world.  

“[Bjork] has got a history of scoring at the collegiate level,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s got pace to his game. Those are two things right off the bat [he has going for him]. We’re hoping he can keep his identity as a player with what he’s developed so far in his young career, and do the things he needs to do to be successful.

“Those two guys can certainly pick you up when you struggle or even play defensively. You’ve seen it over the years with Tyler Seguin and David Pastrnak have grown as young players, so yes there’s that advantage, and that’s why we’re able to even try this, because of the ability of those two to make such good defensive reads.”

It will be equally interesting to see what DeBrusk can do with Krejci as the two players attempt to build some chemistry after having never really played together before. DeBrusk is coming off a 19-goal season with the Providence Bruins, where he got better as the season went along, and plans on taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s being given at NHL camp.

“Obviously it’s just the first day of camp, but it’s cool to be out there next to [Krejci] for some of those drills,” said DeBrusk, the middle pick of the three consecutive first-round picks the Bruins made in 2015. “Any player would like to be in that spot and I know there are a lot of players fighting for it. I’m there right now and I want to do anything I can to stay there. I’m just want to get better acquainted with him, begin to read off him and get used to playing with a player like that who is a top-six centerman [in the NHL].”

Similarly, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson begins camp centering Frank Vatrano and David Backes in an audition of sorts for the third-line center role, and Charlie McAvoy was paired on the first day with Kevan Miller in a defensemen combination that we could absolutely see on opening night. It could be a very young lineup indeed for the Black and Gold if all these young talents show that they’re ready in the next three weeks of camp. 

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.