BOSTON — So much for the idea that players with NHL experience would rather stay out of preseason games.
Anders Bjork finally got to play in one of them on Saturday, and the Bruins’ second-year forward was a little frustrated he hadn’t been allowed to play in any others.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Bjork said before the B’s closed the preseason against the Flyers at TD Garden. “That was probably my 22-year-old brain telling me that.”
Bjork, who started last season as the right wing on the Bruins’ top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, played on Saturday for the first time since Jan. 30, when an awkward collision in a game against the Ducks left him with shoulder damage that required surgery. Despite a lengthy off-season of ultimately successful rehabilitation, Bjork was held out of the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo earlier this month, wasn’t among the Bruins who traveled to China for training camp, and was held out of the first five U.S. preseason games.
“It took a little bit longer than expected,” Bjork said. “The doctors kind of wanted me to play it safe. Part of it was that they wanted me to be fully confident — really eager to get out there, which I am.
“I feel ready. Definitely no hesitation.”
A fifth-round draft pick (No. 146 overall) in 2014, Bjork left Notre Dame after his third season and turned pro last year, joining a large rookie contingent (Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, and eventually Danton Heinen and Matt Grzelcyk) that eventually became full-time Bruins.
Bjork, however, tailed off after a solid start (3-6-9 in his first 16 NHL games), sat out seven games with an upper body injury, was moved off the Marchand-Bergeron line and ultimately spent most of January at AHL Providence. He suffered the season-ending shoulder injury in his first game after a call-up from the P-Bruins, completing his first NHL season with four goals and 12 points over 30 games.
Bjork thinks he has learned from the challenges, and also from what he watched while he was injured.
“You can definitely take the positives from it,” he said. “That’s what the guys said — it’s good to be able to watch, be around the team, learn from the guys, then use that and focus on that when you come back.
“I know more about how the game is at this level. From watching a lot, you kind of pick up a lot. It’s tough to apply it, so that’s the challenge I face now.”
Additional challenges have included a lack of time to establish chemistry with linemates (he skated Saturday with Ryan Donato and Sean Kuraly), leading to a lack of time to show the Bruins he should begin the season in the NHL.
“It’s a short opportunity,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy, adding “I think it’s realistic” that Bjork can stick.
“Look at our lineup, and there’s a few areas where we’re still contemplating where the pieces fit … it would be nice if he was in the conversation.”
Flyers 4, Bruins 1
The Bruins sustained their first regulation loss of the preseason, 4-1 to Philadelphia, to finish with a 5-1-2 record. Ryan Donato’s power-play goal 5:10 into the third period made it a 1-1 game, but Michael Raffl (twice) and Wayne Simmonds answered for the Flyers.
Tuukka Rask, making his second start of the preseason (first since Sept. 19 at Beijing, China), made 20 saves.
Defenseman Torey Krug, playing his second game since fracturing his ankle in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 4, left the game with a lower body injury late in the first period and didn’t return. Cassidy didn’t have any additional information after the game.
Published at Sun, 30 Sep 2018 03:02:28 +0000