One new Bruin (Anders Bjork) has connection to old-time B's


One new Bruin (Anders Bjork) has connection to old-time B's

When Anders Bjork signed with the Bruins last summer, he was headed into a situation without much personal history with the Original Six franchise having grown up in Wisconsin, and played his collegiate hockey at Notre Dame.

He’s making up for lost time now, though, on the ice with three goals and seven points in his first nine games while settling into his right wing spot alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The 21-year-old might have had a little bit more history with the Bruins franchise than he let on at first, however, given that Bjork’s dad, Kirt, and former Bruins forward Dave Poulin were teammates at Notre Dame back in the 1980’s.

Bjork and Poulin have remained close over the years, so the younger Bjork was at least able to get a little taste of what it’s like to be in the Black and Gold before he was. . . well. . . in the Black and Gold.


“He’s reached out a few times through my career in college and even before that to give me advice, or let me know what he was seeing if I was struggling. He’d send me texts of encouragement sometimes, and it was always really cool to get that from a guy like Dave,” said Bjork.
“His advice would always be really helpful. His main thing [about playing for the Bruins] was to just enjoy it, and he told me how great that the people are here.

“He told me not to be shy and to be myself, and that it was all great people and a great organization.”

One thing Poulin didn’t give Bjork was any good “old time hockey” stories about his GM Don Sweeney and club president Cam Neely from their days playing together in Boston.

“Not yet,” said Bjork with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll try to find those out.”

According to Poulin, Bjork has similar high end skating wheels and offensive skills to his old man when he was an All-American at Notre Dame.  It’s the ability to defend and play the 200-foot game that’s made the younger Bjork an NHL prospect, and somebody worthy of installing in the prime right wing spot alongside Bergeron and Marchand even as a fresh-faced rookie.

“I think he’s probably a little more responsible defensively. [Anders] seems to know his goaltender’s name and sees him on a regular basis. Kirt had an incredibly high skill level and was one of the fastest players I ever played with at any level, but it was just a different day and age for the game,” said a laughing Poulin, describing the difference between father and son as players. “[Anders] is responsible defensively, but there’s a side to that where defensively there are a lot of learned things in that league. I learned from players I played with as much as any coach I played for. Early on [in Philly] I had Bobby Clarke and Darryl Sittler as guys I could watch firsthand.

“With Anders getting that opportunity, I may be the biggest Patrice Bergeron fan in hockey. He is one of my favorite players in the league for how he plays the game. He’s got a real cerebral ability that’s off the charts, and his knowledge of the game and the way he competes on a regular basis. If you put a young player in that grouping, sitting beside those guys and the communication level after every shift [is so beneficial]. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the guy on the left side has learned a lot from the centerman as well. Talk about going to get a Ph.D. or a Master’s Degree in hockey, those are some pretty good mentors.”

The family friendship between the Bjorks and the Poulins has been an enduring one steeped in the worlds of hockey and Notre Dame where things like tradition and loyalty are much more than just words. That’s allowed Poulin to be a good sounding board for the family throughout Anders’ hockey career as it began taking off in the U.S. National Team Development Program, and hit an early high note when he was selected by the Bruins in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Draft.

“Starting around the Bantam age when he was playing with the Chicago group out of Milwaukee, you could see that he had a chance to be a pretty good player,” said Poulin. “The game change has come at a really nice time for Anders with the emphasis so much on speed and skill, and youth for that matter. So those things have all come together at the same time for him.”

That friendship has also had its share of interesting situations like when Poulin was working the first round of the Bruins/Senators playoff series for TSN. The Bruins were pushing to sign Bjork once his Frozen Four run with the Fighting Irish ended, and Poulin had both his strong ties to the Bjork family as well as tight friendships with former Bruins teammates in Sweeney and Neely.

Poulin largely stayed out of that situation when Bjork took some additional time to mull over his decision to turn pro, but Anders has always appreciated any advice he’s passed along from a 13-year NHL career with the Flyers, Bruins and Capitals, or as a hockey lifer that coached at Notre Dame and served as a hockey ops executive with the Maple Leafs for most of the last 20 years. But he certainly had no problem telling Anders and his family that they would truly enjoy life as a member of the Bruins when he did decide to sign on for the NHL experience.

“I had a really, really good experience in Boston. I was there less than four full years, but those were some really close teams,” said Poulin. “Part of it was because we won a lot. You lose twice [in the conference finals] to Mario Lemieux’s Cup teams [in Pittsburgh], and you’ve got a pretty good group there.”

Now Bjork is hoping this rookie season is the start of his own great book of recollections, relationships and experience with the Black and Gold just like the ones Poulin relayed to him during his own memorable four-season stint in Boston.


NHL still debating possible discipline on Schenn-Krejci collision

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NHL still debating possible discipline on Schenn-Krejci collision

The NHL Department of Player Safety is still debating if supplemental discipline is needed for the Blues'  Brayden Schenn for the violent hit he delivered to the Bruins' David Krejci in the B's 2-1 overtime loss in St. Louis on Wednesday night. 

In the second period, Schenn clobbered David Krejci in the corner with a punishing hit to the head as the B’s playmaking center was facing him immediately after releasing the puck. Schenn was whistled for a two-minute minor for charging at the time of the collision, but luckily Krejci was able to remain in the game and played 15:54 of ice time in the loss.

Upon further review, it was very clearly a big, heavy hit delivered to Krejci’s head, but there were plenty of mitigating factors. Krejci had his head down until the last second while looking down at the puck on his stick and was hunched over as Schenn moved in to deliver a check on a player eligible to be hit. Schenn’s skates left the ice to finish the hit after impact, which made the collision look even worse to the casual observer, but that isn’t considered launching into a hit by the NHL’s standards.

Adding to the equation is that Schenn has been suspended twice by the NHL before, three games in 2016 for a charging hit on TJ Oshie and one game back in 2013.

Clearly, it’s a difficult call for the league as they try to deter hits to the head and reduce the number of concussions. Still, this would appear to be another situation where, as the league says, a player “assumed a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable." It’s absolutely similar to the Patrick Hornqvist/Charlie McAvoy hit from a few weeks ago that never ended up with any supplemental discipline for the Penguins hard-hitter despite plenty of hue and cry from the Bruins fans.

So what does everybody else think about this hit, and whether or not Schenn should be facing discipline from the NHL as a result of it?


Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.