Bruins

Struggling Bjork may take a seat vs. Rangers

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Struggling Bjork may take a seat vs. Rangers

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s normally a sequence of peaks and valleys for rookies in their first foray through the NHL and Anders Bjork is definitely in one of those lower points right now. 

Bjork, 21, registered a season-low 6:47 of ice time in the Bruins 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at TD Garden and was benched for portions of the second and third period after looking pretty timid throughout the game.

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Bjork has just a single point and two shots on net in his past six games since returning from an upper-body injury believed to be a concussion. It's been an extremely quiet period for a player expected to make a top-six forward impact. It’s all trending toward a potential healthy scratch for Bjork on Saturday against the New York Rangers with a healthy Ryan Spooner potentially taking over for him on David Krejci’s left side.

“We’ll make the decision tomorrow, but [a Bjork scratch] is definitely a possibility and something we’ve discussed,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I just find that he’s not as strong on the puck as he was at the start of the year, or as quick to create turnovers. There are parts of his game that are always going to be worked on, like his play away from the puck.

“But the issue right now is being strong on pucks. The goal [Washington] they scored the other night is a good example. We make a play through the middle of the ice tape-to-tape, he’s in the crease and he’s not able to handle a puck. They’re coming back at us while we’re thinking we’re on offense. There were breakdowns after that clearly, but that’s an area [that needs improving]. Just before Charlie [McAvoy’s] penalty, we’re on a draw and [Bjork] gets pushed off a puck that comes back on us and we get beat up ice. Some of it is plays where he needs to be better, and some of it is where he’s at in his career where other guys are just stronger.”

Perhaps some of Bjork’s hesitancy is also an after-effect of getting tattooed in the middle of the ice by Tampa Bay's Matt Martin in a play that knocked him out of the lineup for a few weeks. Coping with the immediacy of those kinds of hits is part of life in pro hockey for a young player. It's a considerable adjustment when going straight from college hockey to the NHL.

Bjork knows that he hasn’t been a high-impact player since returning from injury and hasn’t really utilized his greatest offensive assets, speed and skill.  It may not matter much if Bjork watches Saturday from the ninth floor of the Garden as a healthy scratch, but he has a plan to get his game back on track when he does get his next opportunity for the Black and Gold.

“I think it’s mainly a confidence thing. I have to use [my speed] and it’s on me if I don’t,” said Bjork, who has four goals and 10 points in 22 games this season. “I think I just have to have that confidence every shift, so I can avoid the mistakes. There are bounces good and bad in hockey, but you create your own luck sometimes. You do that by playing the right way, and when things aren’t going your way you need to get back to basics of making things simple. That’s what I need to focus on: Making the simple plays and doing the details right.”

A healthy scratch was exactly the right thing to spark fellow rookie Jake DeBrusk when he was scuffling a bit last month, so perhaps the same plan of attack for Bjork to unlock his game while on a pace for 14 goals and 34 points this season. 

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Morning Skate: Darling experiment not working out for Hurricanes

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Morning Skate: Darling experiment not working out for Hurricanes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while readying for some serious NHL All-Star game action later this week. 

 

*In a world where we sometimes think it would be easy to replace Tuukka Rask with somebody as effective as a No. 1 goalie for the Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes and Scott Darling serve as solid evidence that it really isn’t that easy to find a high-caliber goaltender. The Canes tried to go the route of grabbing a good, young established backup to be their No. 1 guy a la Cam Talbot in Edmonton, and it just hasn’t worked out for the Hurricanes. There is still time for Darling to step up and be the guy Carolina needs him to be, but it hasn’t happened yet. 

 

*Rick Nash is a big fan of Pavel Buchnevich, and thinks the young Rangers forward can become a star in the league

 

*It’s a sad day for USA Hockey as Jim Johansson has passed away far too young at 53 years old. Here’s a good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance on hockey’s loss with Johansson’s passing. 

 

*In a great development for the Bruins and a not-so-great one for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ondrej Palat is out for an indefinite amount of time

 

*NBC is already getting fired up about the heated Team USA/Team Canada rivalry in women’s hockey, and I am right there with them. 

 

*One of the leaders in the Colorado Avalanche dressing room said that the trade of Matt Duchene away has improved Colorado’s culture “a lot.”

 

*For something completely different: It sounds like it was a pretty awesome experience to go to the Eagles/Vikings NFC championship game if you were from Minnesota. In other words, not so awesome.  

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McAvoy missing from Bruins practice

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McAvoy missing from Bruins practice

BRIGHTON, Mass – It isn’t likely to be anything serious given the circumstances, but 20-year-old Bruins rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy was missing from the B’s practice ice on Monday morning during the team’s skate at Warrior Ice Arena. 

After practice, Bruce Cassidy indicated that McAvoy was missing to attend “a doctor’s appointment” that had been scheduled for some time. Interestingly enough, the Bruins head coach didn’t rule out McAvoy potentially missing Tuesday’s night game in relation to the visit to the doctor’s office. 

McAvoy logged 23:56 of ice time in Saturday night’s win over the Montreal Canadiens and looked perfectly healthy before, during and after the game. But the youngster was missing from practice on Monday after the Bruins hadn’t skated at all in two of the previous three days, including Sunday when McAvoy attended the Patriots/Jaguars game with a number of his teammates. 

A few missed games or missed practices here or there wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as the B’s attempt to manage McAvoy’s time on ice with 45 games played this season, a total of two less than the young man played all of last season for Boston University, the World Junior tournament, Providence and Boston. The B’s are well aware of the possibility of McAvoy hitting the “rookie wall” in the second half, so there may be times when his workload his lessened a little bit around games even if that isn’t the case on Monday. 

Here are the line combos and D-pairings at Monday’s practice for the Bruins: 

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Vatrano

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Grzelcyk-Miller

Postma

 

Rask

Khudobin