Bruins

Could a stint with the P-Bruins be the best thing for Bjork?

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Could a stint with the P-Bruins be the best thing for Bjork?

The Bruins aren’t overplaying their hand when it comes to 21-year-old rookie Anders Bjork, but it wouldn’t be very surprising to see at some point soon the former Notre Dame standout get some development time at the AHL level. Bjork was scratched in the blowout win over the Ottawa Senators last weekend, and will once again be up in the press box for Tuesday night’s game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center. 

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Instead Ryan Spooner will play the right wing with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, and the speedy, creative forward will look to build on a recent hot streak that has him with two goals, seven points and a plus-5 rating in his last seven games. Meanwhile Bjork had just a single goal and three points with just seven shots on net in 12 games during the month of December, and hasn’t been able to consistently turn his own speed, skill game into a major impact for the Black and Gold. 

There have been some glimmers and glimpses of Bjork turning his speed into a factor even in the last few weeks, but it hasn't been consistent enough for a player expected to be a top-6 contributor at the NHL level. 

The Bruins didn’t sound like they were ready to pull the trigger with Bjork at the beginning of this week as they sent fellow rookie Peter Cehlarik down to Providence instead on Monday. But it also sounds like it’s been a topic of discussion between Bruce Cassidy and GM Don Sweeney, and it may happen sooner rather than later on a roster that’s already chock full of young wingers. 

“We’re not saying what we’re doing with [Bjork], but if a young kid is not playing on a consistent basis then ‘yes, absolutely,’ said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if the young player could head to Providence if the B’s forward stays healthy with their current 12 players seemingly gelling together and Frank Vatrano around as the extra. “We look at the growth of our players here. I think it speaks for itself the growth of Danton and Jake down there last year, and I understand that [Jakob] Forsbacka Karlsson and Zach [Senyshyn] are playing well down there right now too. 

“There is not room [on the NHL roster] for everybody, so if that’s what it takes for Anders then we will look at that. We’re going with the same 12 [forwards] against the Islanders, so that’s something we’ll have to have a conversation about: Whether it’s now or down the road, we’ll have to assess what’s best for him and what’s best for our team.” 

Clearly it could, and should, be a positive experience for Bjork as it was for Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk last season. Their experiences with big minutes, big roles in all situations and the ups and downs of the AHL season made them better players, and in the case of Heinen especially made a world of difference into getting him ready for another crack at the NHL. 

Perhaps the same kind of development track awaits Bjork with the Bruins this season as things have trailed off for him a bit as the physicality and intensity of the NHL has begun ramping up around the holidays. 

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McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

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McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

BOSTON – Adam McQuaid had to wait months to get healthy and weeks to finally push back into the lineup once he was over his broken leg, but that was all in the rear view mirror when he made his return to the B’s lineup on Wednesday night. McQuaid was his solid, simple self on the ice in Boston’s 4-1 humbling of the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, and immediately made an impact with his size, strength, physicality and penalty killing in the win.

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Afterward McQuaid was happy with the plus-1 rating in 15:12 of ice time while working mostly with rookie Matt Grzelcyk, and he even managed to get four pucks on net while playing assertive, aggressive hockey in the O-Zone. All in all it was a strong return after missing the past 36 games with a broken leg, and it was a much needed dose of again feeling like he’s a part of the team for the selfless, hard-working McQuaid.  

“I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just went with the first shift and then the second, and just went down from there. I wanted to try to keep things really simple, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] made life pretty easy to play with…he played really well,” said McQuaid. “All the guys did, so it was nice to be back and be a part of the win, I’m happy to be back.

“It’s nice to be in those situations – you don’t want to be – to be put in that situation. I think guys thrive off of wanting to kill that and be in those situations. Even though I was a little winded at the end of it, it was a good feeling for sure.”

The part that winded McQuaid was killing off a key 5-on-3 Canadiens power play in a tight, one goal game in the second period. McQuaid was second only to Zdeno Chara with his 1:34 of shorthanded ice time in the win over the Bruins, and the PK is clearly a situation where the rich get richer when the shot-blocking, rugged McQuaid draws back into the fold with Kevan Miller “under the weather” this week. 

“We did a good job, real good job [on the penalty kill]. It doesn’t surprise me,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Adam [McQuaid] is very good on the kill. We’ve said that all along, that’s one area we miss when he is out of the lineup.”

Now McQuaid will continue knocking any residual rust off by again drawing into Boston’s lineup on Thursday night in Brooklyn as Miller was left behind in Boston, and a respected B’s veteran is finally getting some run after a long wait. 

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Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

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Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while wondering when my video tribute is coming.

*Great interview with PK Subban, who appropriately lauds Willie O’Ree for his trailblazing, pioneer accomplishment of breaking through the NHL’s color barrier 60 years ago today. It was very cool that O’Ree did it with the Bruins and even cooler that he was in Boston last night from the Bruins-Habs game at TD Garden.

*Speaking of the Canadiens, old friend Joe Morrow decided to show the Canadiens digital people around Southie this week. That was his big accomplishment in these last two Bruins-Habs games.

*The Winnipeg Jets are having some big success this season, but they’ve also got some serious financial considerations coming up.

*The Colorado Avalanche continue to see attendance issues in their building, but at least there’s a reasonably better product on the ice.

*What is the value for power forward Patrick Maroon on the trade market as a rental? It certainly matters who is asking.

*Jack Johnson and John Tortorella are talking out their issues after it surfaced that the Columbus D-man wants a trade out of town.

*With Victor Hedman injured, it looks like young Tampa Bay D-man Slater Koekkoek is finally going to get a featured look with the Lightning. Per Elliotte Friedman, this is a player that the Bruins have eyed in trade possibilities in the recent past.

*For something completely different: Liam Neeson is open to returning as Qui Gon-Jinn, which adds another interesting piece to a standalone movie for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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