Haggerty: Good start for Anders Bjork as he looks to nail down Bruins' job


Haggerty: Good start for Anders Bjork as he looks to nail down Bruins' job

With the hopes pretty high for 21-year-old Anders Bjork heading into NHL training camp at the end of this week, he obliged with a strong start at rookie camp in Buffalo last weekend. Bjork scored three goals while playing in two of the three rookie tournament games held in Buffalo against his Devils, Sabres and Penguins peers, and looked every bit the speedy, skilled young winger Boston is hoping to see over the next month.

That’s after Bjork looked pretty comfortable skating with the NHL big boys at captain’s practice where he’d connected with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on a few scoring plays, and looked like a confident young kid fresh off Hobey Baker consideration at Notre Dame. 

That’s exceedingly good news for the Black and Gold, who need at least one and possibly two young wingers to step up and win NHL jobs in training camp just as Brandon Carlo did on the back end last season.


“It’s been well-documented that we’re hoping some of those [young] guys are going to push for jobs, so I guess we’ll see starting this weekend,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who got a good first look at the prospects during his time in Buffalo last weekend. “I think this rookie camp is good for guys like Bjork, who maybe didn’t get to play in those games [in the AHL last spring] to see where our guys are at and build some chemistry. We’ll use a lot of different lines.

“We know that Bergeron and Marchy are going to play together. I’ll let the cat out of the bag right now on that one. They’re probably going to play together. With Pastrnak’s situation we don’t who is going to go in with Krejci, so there’s going to be a developing chemistry situation there. But they still have to do it against NHL competition [in main training camp].”

The lefty-shooting Bjork said he’s comfortable at either wing after playing mostly right wing for the Fighting Irish, and finishing with 21 goals and 52 points in 39 games as a junior at Notre Dame last season. That means he’s likely to be used for some reps as the young legs on the right side with Bergeron and Marchand at camp, and for others he’ll get a look at left wing alongside David Krejci in another top-6 audition.

Who knows? 

Perhaps Bjork will even get a look at right wing with Krejci if fellow 21-year-old David Pastrnak is slow getting into B’s training camp given his contract situation. Whatever the case, Bjork was still in a little bit of “pinch me” mode earlier this month when he was skating with All-Stars and Olympians like No. 37 and No. 63.

“It’s obviously exciting, but my focus is on doing the best that I can and trying to win the game no matter whether it’s rookie camp, preseason or whatever,” said Bjork. “I’m going to do all I can to help the team win. It’s definitely been eye-opening. Those guys [Marchand and Bergeron] are some of the best players in the world for a reason. You can see it. They don’t really make mistakes.

“It’s crazy to watch and really exciting and inspiring at the same time. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to skate with those guys. It feels like a dream knowing those are the kinds of guys I watched growing up. It’s exciting that the potential is there [to play with them] but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of focus.”

Will Bjork be ready right off the bat for Boston after similar NCAA standouts like Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes were over the last few years after leaving college? It remains to be seen once the real NHL auditions begin during the preseason and the speed and physicality both get bumped up as the pros are fighting for jobs. But Bjork is off to a good start after a productive rookie camp weekend in Buffalo where he showed the speed and goal-scoring abilities that will need to be most present for him to win an NHL gig. 


What we learned: B's own the third, Chara's still go it

What we learned: B's own the third, Chara's still go it

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-2 comeback win in over the Oilers on Tuesday night in Edmonton.

1) The Bruins continue to be a dominant force in the third period.

That's a testament to their superior conditioning this season and the way they use their depth to overwhelm opponents in a 60-minute game. The Bruins scored their three goals in the third period to come all the way back from a two-goal deficit and have now outscored opponents 68-38 in the third this season in a jaw-dropping statistic. Basically, the Bruins are a plus-30 in goal differential at the time it matters most. They outshot the Oilers 14-6 in those final 20 minutes and continued pouring it on after they’d hit a couple of posts and missed some golden scoring chances earlier in the game. Some of that was certainly a testament to their resolve and character as they just keep on coming even when they’re getting a little frustrated by the game’s circumstances. Still, some of it is also about a clear time in the game where the Bruins have owned just about all their opponents this season. The third period is theirs.

2) Noel Acciari is finally looking healthy and back to form on the fourth line.

Acciari went through a 10-game scoreless drought and wasn’t playing up to his usual physical standards while he was playing through a lower-body injury in January. Acciari sat out for a couple of weeks to rest the injury, came back midway through February and in the past couple of games is finally back to the hard-hitting, hard-charging factor on the energy line (two hits and a couple of takeaways in his 13 minutes of ice time) that can actually provide a little offense. Acciari’s wraparound goal in the third period was important, too, as he spearheaded the three-goal outburst in the final 20 minutes. The Rhode Island kid now has seven goals on the season and has a legit chance of hitting double-digits this year if he can remain healthy down the stretch, which will always be a challenge given his no-holds-barred style.

3) It’s time to stop fooling around with the trades for left-shot D-men and sign Zdeno Chara to a contract extension.

Chara was immense shutting down Connor McDavid and holding him to two shots and continues to play excellent shutdown defense the past month against some of the top scoring stars in the league. Who can forget the way he completely smothered Auston Matthews in Toronto’s last trip to Boston as the B's gear up for another meeting with the Leafs on Saturday night? Chara has been an excellent warrior, leader and sort of an on-ice coach for the young D-men on the Bruins this season. He’s done everything that Boston has asked of him. Before making a blockbuster trade for a Ryan McDonagh or any other left side D-men that could ostensibly be seen as a long-term replacement for the Bruins captain, they should take care of things with Chara and try to get him locked down ahead of the playoffs. Nobody suspects it’s going to be an issue for the player in any way, shape or form and clearly, a contract year has brought out the best in a player who's a team-best plus-26 on the season. But I don’t think there’s that much more for Chara to prove about their still being gas left in the tank. It’s a reasonable assumption that he can play to this level next season at 41 as well. Certainly, he’s going to have his rough moments when the Bruins play 16 games in March and the playoff grind will always be a challenge for a 40-year-old, but Chara has already proven that Tom Brady isn’t the only 40-year-old ageless wonder still doing his thing in Boston these days.


*Bruce Cassidy deserves plenty of credit for switching out Riley Nash and David Krejci in the third period while still trailing. That proved to be the impetus behind the B's final two goals. Nash fed a crashing Matt Grzelcyk for the tying strike with his new linemates, and then Danton Heinen fed Krejci for the winner to put the B’s on top for good. Those are masterful adjustments from the B’s coaching staff.

*Chara played 22:39 of ice time while completely shutting down McDavid, had five shots on net and five blocked shots in a yeoman’s effort on the second night of back-to-backs. You know, 40-year-old players aren’t supposed to be able to do that stuff. Impressive,

*David Backes won a key one-on-one battle with Drake Caggiula along the side boards to set up Krejci’s goal, had five shots on net and was a stalwart, physical beast for the Bruins against a pretty rough-and-tumble Oilers crew.


*No shots on net in 13:22 for Milan Lucic. He did have six registered hits, but he wasn’t noticeable at all in a game where you’d expect the motor to still be running high.

*The same can be said for Patrick Maroon, who had a shot on net and a hit along with a minus-1 rating in 17:23 of ice time for the Oilers. If that was an audition to be a member of the Bruins, he didn’t really do a heck of a lot to impress them after killing them the past few years.

*One shot on net in 13:43 of ice time for Ryan Spooner, who was dropped to the third line with Nash in the third period. The Oilers might be a tough match-up for Spooner given their size and strength, but he’s got to find a way to be effective against those teams down the stretch.



Morning Skate: Team USA's medal dreams dashed

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Morning Skate: Team USA's medal dreams dashed

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while disappointed at the whimper that Team USA went out with during a shootout loss to the Czech Republic.

*Here’s the aforementioned rundown on the Team USA loss just ahead of the medal round with the Americans going 0-for-5 in the shootout after battling to a 2-2 tie. Team USA had their chances and Ryan Donato scored another goal, but it’s clear they weren’t one of the more talented teams in the tournament with no current NHL representation.

*Marc Savard is back with another one of his DIY stick-taping videos where, this time, you can learn how to do a candy cane-style tape job just like Phil Kessel on your hockey stick.

*Down Goes Brown has the most annoying things that NHL GMs will say or do around the NHL trade deadline.

*Brad Treliving insists that it was just a coincidence that the Flames’ trip to Las Vegas coincided with the players’ mothers visiting for a road trip.

*Ryan Suter might be getting up there in terms of age and games played, but he is still every bit the workhorse he’s always been while in Minnesota.

*Braden Holtby is going through a tough stretch for the Washington Capitals as the losses are stringing together against him.

*For something completely different: MC Hammer has still got it after all these years.