The kids have looked alright through the first two preseason games. From Jesse Gabrielle and Zane McIntyre spearheading the Bruins’ first preseason win over the Canadiens, to Austin Czarnik’s stellar night against the Red Wings that included a penalty shot goal, Boston’s highly touted prospect pool has been front and center since the start of training camp.
Two talented youngsters, in particular, are being put in a good position to succeed.
Playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is a challenging task in and of itself. Ditto for David Krejci and David Pastrnak. The Bruins, however, are showing good faith in giving former Notre Dame standout Anders Bjork and 2015 first rounder Jake DeBrusk a chance to earn top-six minutes.
Rising up the ranks in the Bruins’ pipeline over his three years in South Bend, which included a spot as a Hobey Baker finalist and a Frozen Four berth last season, Bjork’s skillset should be more than complimentary to the Bergeron-Marchand duo. That was on display during Bjork’s pro hockey debut in Quebec City on Monday night where he tallied the tying goal and was unquestionably one of the better skaters throughout the game, creating several chances with his linemates of Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey.
Whether he’s skating with Bergeron and Marchand or Spooner and Beleskey, Bjork is getting quite the knowledge from the aforementioned veterans as he gets adjusted to the pro game.
“I’ve been learning a lot for sure,” Bjork said following Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I think one of the biggest things is just the consistency through every drill and every shift in the game, you see how intense they are and you see how much they want to win every puck battle. So that’s the biggest thing for me.”
“It’s definitely physical and definitely fast,” the 6-foot, 181-pound Bjork added about the adjustment from the collegiate game to the NHL. “I think you definitely have to refocus after every shift and be ready. For me, you know, I’m not a big guy so I need to use my body and my speed a lot, so you can’t take any shifts off.”
Bjork will have to wait a little longer until he skates in a game with Bergeron and Marchand. But the Bruins didn’t waste any time putting the DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak trio together in Preseason Game No. 2.
DeBrusk, Krejci nor Pastrnak got on the scoresheet, but the Bruins’ top line for the evening cycled the puck well in the offensive end creating a few quality chances and played well in all three zones during the 4-2 victory over the Red Wings.
“Yeah, exactly, I think that’s where my game excels. Like you said those two things are the main kind of focus for me. I go to the hard areas and take a defenseman with me and get those pucks back and give it to those guys and they’re pretty good with it,” said DeBrusk, who notched 49 points in 74 games during his 2016-17 campaign in Providence.
“I think we forced a lot of turnovers tonight. Like I said, I thought we were all over the puck offensively and just didn’t get rewarded, and maybe we were a little too cute at times or certain plays just did not end up working out. It was also fun to play with [Krejci and Pastrnak].”
From Bjork and DeBrusk to Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins youth movement will be on display. The trio has the best shot of notching a spot on the opening night roster. Others, like Austin Czarnik (a goal and an assist vs. the Red Wings), Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn, Danton Heinen and Gabrielle, have had a solid first and are giving the Bruins brass something to ponder over before making their final roster cuts in a couple of weeks.
We have some sick young players this year! Going to be a fun season @NHLBruins
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) September 20, 2017
“Yeah, they all came in in really good shape, and they’re just pushing us as the veterans to be better, and that’s what you want from the young guys. They keep us honest, and we knew they were going to come in in good shape, and so did we,” Krejci said. “It’s good, it’s a good mix. Some veterans, some young guys, young guys playing well. You know, for lots of us, it was the first game today, so we kind of got up to speed, and it’s just going to be better each game now.”