GLENDALE, Arizona – In a rookie season that’s been a little turbulent through the first four games, Anders Bjork certainly had a performance to build on in Saturday night’s win. It wasn’t dominant by any means or the full potential of what the speedy ex-Notre Dame forward will do once he gets his game together at the NHL level, but there was something encouraging about the 21-year-old scoring his first NHL goal in Boston’s 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
It was a third period afterthought rather than a game-winner, but it was also a really nice play on the PP with Jake DeBrusk working a cross-ice pass to Bjork wide open on the backdoor. Bjork slammed the puck home to close out the B’s scoring for the day, and was all smiles afterward excited about his NHL milestone moment.
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“Especially after a few games you start thinking about it too much, so it’s nice to get it out of the way and focus on playing hockey the right way,” said Bjork, who finished with 21 goals and 52 points in 39 games as a scoring machine for the Fighting Irish last season. “It felt like I was struggling the first couple of games production-wise, so it’s important to get that goal and carry that momentum into the upcoming games here.
“It definitely [felt good]. It was nice to get it on the power play too because we haven’t been good on there, but we’ve been moving it around in practice and building some chemistry there.”
Consistency becomes the big challenge now for a youngster like Bjork as he carves out a role for himself at the NHL level, but that will most likely continue to be elusive in the early going as he experiences all things NHL for the first time.
“There’s a bit of an adjustment period and I’m still finding my stride, and trying to look for ways to use my speed more effectively,” said Bjork. “Even on the road you’re traveling to different places and games are at different times, and you’ve got to find ways to bring the same game for your teammates, coaches and everyone so they know what they’re going to get out of you.”
The Bjork goal capped off an impressive night for Boston’s “young guns” power play unit featuring DeBrusk, Bjork, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy and David Krejci, a quintet that scored a pair of special teams goals in the road win. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy certainly hopes that getting on the scoreboard spurs Bjork on to bigger and better things as his fellow rookie winger, DeBrusk, continues to make strides in the playmaking department.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the Bruins rookies are a bit of a bellwether for the Black and Gold: When the first-year guys have played well the B’s have won thus far, and when they don’t then it’s a much different story.
“It was kind of a clean-up goal, but any one will count. The first one is always a nice one to get out of the way and he had a few good looks in the third,” said Cassidy. “Hopefully like Jake [DeBrusk] he gets it out of the way and gets his confidence moving forward.
“I thought Jake was a little ahead of Anders in terms of his pace. Maybe that’s because he’s on the left side and he ends up seeing more pucks from a guy like [David] Krejci, but at the end of the day both guys were good.”
With both Bjork and DeBrusk now on the board just a handful of games into the season, the Bruins are hoping they continue to see bigger, faster and better things out of a rookie duo manning important roles for the Black and Gold.