Bruins

Young talent carries Bruins over Predators in season opener, 4-3

Young talent carries Bruins over Predators in season opener, 4-3

BOSTON, Mass – The talk through all of Bruins training camp has been about the influx of youthful talent, and those players showed why on opening night. 

With Patrice Bergeron, David Backes and Torey Krug missing from the lineup with injuries and ailments, the Bruins got goals from 21-year-old David Pastrnak, 20-year-old Jake DeBrusk and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy in a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators in an impressive win at TD Garden. It was the first NHL goals for both DeBrusk and McAvoy as their respective families were both in attendance to watch a little history go down for them. 

On the veteran side of things, David Krejci racked up three assists to lead the returning veterans in the lineup and looked fast, healthy and strong after focusing this summer on keeping pace with a league that’s getting faster every year. 

Above and beyond the individual scorers, the Bruins looked fast and aggressive in holding the Predators at bay aside from the one goal allowed in the waning seconds of the first period. On that one Pastrnak coughed up a puck in the D-zone after a face-off win from David Krejci, and Viktor Arvidsson ended up beating Tuukka Rask high from a juicy shooting position in the slot. 

Otherwise, Rask and the B’s defense was strong with the Finnish netminder stopping 26-of-29 shots he faced and the Bruins skaters keeping the ice tilted toward Nashville’s end for most of the night. Brad Marchand added the empty netter in the closing minutes to seal the victory for Boston, and Nashville added a couple of very late PP goals to keep the score close. 

Now the Bruins will be off for the weekend without a game until a Monday afternoon matinee against the Colorado Avalanche, and a chance that perhaps Bergeron and Krug could return to the lineup ahead of their first West Coast trip of the season.  

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.