Bruins

There'll be a couple of Fathers' Days for Bruins on this trip

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There'll be a couple of Fathers' Days for Bruins on this trip

PHILADELPHIA – In their steady, successful run that culminated with a Stanley Cup title in 2011, the Bruins never really tried out one of the father’s road trips that many other NHL teams have adopted in the past 10 or 15 years.

Perhaps it was a Claude Julien, or it was an organizational thing, but either way it never really happened for the Black and Gold.

Clearly, it was about business first and foremost at that point and it was something the B’s had never really done before as it becomes en vogue around the NHL. But they’ve started making up for lost time, and gotten into the act the past few seasons inviting the B’s players’ moms and dads on Bruins road trips.

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An impressive group of Bruins’ paterfamilias are with the players in Philadelphia this weekend and will be in Nashville on Monday as well as they get an up-close look at the NHL lifestyle of their talented sons. It’s clearly a treat for the dads after serving key roles in the hockey upbringing of their sons, and it’s also a cherished trip for the players who don’t get to spend too much family time in a bustling season.

“It’s good. So far, so good. They really love being here, and we love having them around. So hopefully we get a big win for them. You never want to let your parents down, so hopefully, we have a big performance,” said Danton Heinen, whose dad Rick is a bigger, balder spitting image of the young B’s winger. “Just showing him the day-to-day life [is cool], and just spending time with him. He’s a long ways away [in British Columbia]. He’s all the way across the country, so it’s great spending time with him and showing him what it’s like.”

In all, 21 fathers are traveling with the Bruins players. Fathers living in faraway places, such as Zdeno Chara’s dad and Anton Khudobin’s father, didn’t make the trip, and David Pastrnak’s father passed away when he was a teenager. Instead,  Pastrnak will have his brother with him on the trip. More members of Tim Schaller's family are descending on Philly to be a giant New Hampshire-based Bruins rooting section at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I think it’s awesome. As a player, we didn’t do that way back then, and I lost my dad when I was 21. So I’m not sure we would have had a chance, but I would have loved to do it. We had the moms last year, and they had a great time,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “Hopefully the guys put their best foot forward for their dads. I think it’s a great acknowledgment of the time, support and effort that they lent to their children’s success. You can’t get there without that.”

One thing for certain with all the dads in a luxury box watching in Philly and Nashville: The Bruins players should have plenty of motivation to take two points in each spot and make certain that the father/son plane trips are happy ones through the two-game trip over the next three days.  

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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: 100 reasons to love the NHL at 100

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Morning Skate: 100 reasons to love the NHL at 100

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while "The Last Jedi" is officially open for business.

*In honor of the 100th anniversary of the NHL, here are 100 reasons to love the league, its players and its storied history. I’ll give you one reason: Bobby Freakin’ Orr.

*It looks like Milan Lucic is becoming a good fit on a line with Connor McDavid out in Edmonton, something that I think the Oil envisioned when they originally signed him.

*A nice piece on the lasting friendship between Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury even after they’re no longer goalie tandem partners in Pittsburgh. A couple of Stanley Cups will do that for a goalie duo.

*They say that there’s no dancing in hockey, and there’s this ECHL player that is getting his groove on during pregame warm-ups.

*It sounds like Anthony Duclair is attempting to adapt and evolve his game with the Arizona Coyotes after fighting through the trade rumors.

*For something completely different: Speaking of the release of the new "Star Wars" movie, here is the first reaction from fans.