Thoughts and observations from the first week of the preseason
In 10 days, the Bruins will welcome the Stanley Cup finalist Nashville Predators to TD Garden for their regular season debut. Plenty of important roster decisions are ahead for GM Don Sweeney, head coach Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the Black and Gold over the next week and a half.
Hours removed from their biggest round of roster cuts to date – which included the likes of Jesse Gabrielle, Zach Senyshyn, Jakub Zboril and Zane McIntyre to name a few – and hours away from their preseason Causeway Street finale against the Blackhawks, here are some thoughts from your’s truly on the first week of training camp.
Bjork the best fit with Bergeron and Marchand to start the season
There’s a lot of hype surrounding Anders Bjork’s rookie season in Boston, and with good reason. During his last two years, Bjork rose up the prospect ranks and developed into a skilled forward at Notre Dame, where he led the Fighting Irish to the Frozen Four a year ago.
Bjork’s smarts and skillset with the puck makes him an ideal fit with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. At some point, the rotating door of linemates for Bergeron and Marchand that’s continued ever since the Tyler Seguin trade will need to be shut. Head coach Bruce Cassidy has kept the Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork trio together since the first practice.
Barring any significant development, Bjork should remain with Bergeron and Marchand come opening night. He still has a lot to learn as he enters his rookie season, but Bjork is the best option to get top line minutes with the dynamic duo.
“His shift length will get up there, and that is one of the things he will have to learn is that it’s difficult to be an impact player every shift in the National Hockey League so sometimes the puck doesn’t follow you. You do your job, then live to fight another day. I think away from the puck, he’s going to realize how good these players are as well, enough to have a better stick and angles,” Cassidy said following the Bruins’ 2-1 preseason win over the Flyers.
“I’m not surprised, all young forwards go through, for the most part. Obviously, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] didn’t at 18. He’s one of the rare guys that probably at that young age was able to defend very well. Those are teachable things; very correctable things.”
Very correctable, indeed. Unless of course, the slashing and faceoff violation calls pile up like they did against the Flyers on Thursday – the first time that Bjork got to skate with Bergeron and Marchand in game action.
“Did we play with Anders tonight? I remember maybe three shifts with him,” Bergeron joked There was no flow to the game. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll just have to work on it in practice and get used to that. I think that everyone will get used to it, the refs also.”
Time will help Gabrielle
Among the aforementioned notable cuts, which also include Tommy Cross and Jordan Szwarz, the most surprising name on the list is Gabrielle. Sure, odds weren’t in his favor to grab a roster spot, but given his first week of preseason action, one might have thought he deserved to stick around at least for a few more days.
Much like his idol in Marchand, Gabrielle’s energetic and edgy style of play will endeer himself to Boston. Also like his idol, Gabrielle still needs to toe the fine line on a nightly basis. That, along with improving his offensive skill set and becoming a 200-foot player will suit him well in Providence to start the season.
He might have been an underdog to make the Bruins’ opening night roster, but given his traits, the 6-foot former WHL standout should have a place in the bottom-six if he finds his way back to Boston in 2017-18. Time and development are on his side.
Bruins Daily News
At some point, we’ll be announcing some of the new Bruins Daily initiatives for the upcoming regular season. But we do have one bit of unfortunate news to share.
Over the weekend, our office on Adams Street in Dorchester, shared with sister company StinkySocks Hockey, was damaged by a 2-alarm fire. The building also includes Blasi’s Cafe, P.S. Gourmet Coffee Shop, and Folan Family Dental.
Thankfully, no injuries were sustained during the fire that happened at 2:30 am Saturday morning. You can read the full report from WCVB here.
The specific timetable upon the businesses operating at our Adams Street location is unclear at this time. We here at Bruins Daily will still provide coverage from Warrior Ice Arena and TD Garden to select road games as we wait to return to our permanent office.
From everyone at Bruins Daily, our thoughts and prayers are with the other businesses affected by this weekend’s fire, and we look forward to reconvening on Adams Street in the near future.