BOSTON – If Anders Bjork is going to stick at the NHL level then he’s going to need to provide some offense for the Bruins.
It’s something the 23-year-old hadn’t really done in his injury-plagued two NHL seasons with just five goals and 15 points in 51 games while shoulder surgeries had short-circuited his ability to develop any offensive confidence at the NHL level. So it was a crucial confidence-builder for the youngster when he scored a key insurance goal in Boston’s 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in just his second game back with the Black and Gold.
The goal was a thing of beauty as Bjork and Matt Grzelcyk played the back and forth game with the former Notre Dame standout firing a rocket under the bar to finish things off.
Bjork only managed 8:51 of ice time in the special teams-filled contest, but he made it count with three shots on net and the top corner wrist in the kind of performance that his head coach would like to see more of moving forward as he establishes himself in Boston.
“Well, that’s it. Coming out of training camp, we thought [Bjork] played well. The discussion was will he be in our top-12 every night and is he going to get his minutes? We felt that he’d be better off going down [to the AHL], playing a little more and see if he can start getting comfortable scoring goals again, making plays and being that guy,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Whether that short sample size has anything to do with what’s happened the last two games, I don’t know. We needed it.
“[He] came probably a little earlier than we’d [have] liked. We didn’t have a timetable but I think it’s important for him. If he’s going to play up here, he has to be some level of a scorer. Getting onto the power play would be the next challenge for us if he does continue. But [it’s] one step at a time, and if he gives us some five-on-five secondary scoring with his foot speed, his energy [and] getting some youth in the lineup, I think it will make us better.”
Bjork has played with speed, confidence and creativity in this last go-round with the Bruins and that started with a strong training camp followed by three goals and eight points in his first seven games at the AHL level. Now he’s doing it at the NHL level for the Bruins over the last couple of games and hopes to just keep it going with a major job opening there now that Karson Kuhlman is out at least a month with a fractured leg.
“It’s nice. I think all players know you sort of go through highs and lows with [goal-scoring] and you sort of get lucky at times,” said Bjork. “It was a little bit of luck on that shot for sure, but you’ve got to learn to ride it whether you’re high or low. It was nice to get that one, but I want to keep staying consistent and level-headed and just keep improving.
“It’s a work in progress. I need to keep getting better every night and show my consistency. I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far, but I think I can keep improving and getting hungry offensively while also taking care of the job in the D-zone.”
It’s a “work in progress” that the Bruins will gladly add to their group right now as Bjork’s speed and offense are adding another dimension to a forward group that’s been lacking some scoring depth prior to his arrival this season.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.