We’re in the final week of the preseason where very few open spots remain on the Boston Bruins’ opening night roster.
One of those spots centers around the vacant hole left by Marcus Johansson on the third line. Johansson’s former linemates, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, return for another go-around in 2019-20.
Anders Bjork got his crack skating with the talented forwards in Philadelphia. He made the most of that opportunity during Boston’s 3-1 victory in Philadelphia. The trio was hands down the best line on the ice for either side, combining for three points on the evening.
“It’s been pretty good so far,” Coyle said about his new potential linemates. “We’ve only had a couple of practices but we had one game. I thought we had some decent spurts in that game. There were times where we looked really good and other times where it was our first preseason game. Some little things to work out but overall it was a pretty good start, something to build off of.”
Coyle, Bjork and Heinen all bring something different to the table. They’ve meshed well as a unit and showcased their potential all camp long.
Every member of the trio appears to have improved significantly from a season ago. Their chemistry may very well give the Bruins a productive last piece to their top-nine.
Bjork managed to keep his wheels after putting on eight to 10 pounds of muscle this offseason. Heinen looks more confident than ever. And Coyle is picking up right where he left off from his stellar postseason performance a few months back.
“Things work out funny, I don’t think it ever meshes perfectly. Sometimes it kind of hits and sometimes it takes a little bit,” Coyle said about his chemistry with Bjork and Heinen. “It was a better start than I envisioned I think. We felt good in practice, felt like we were getting there but it’s the first preseason game, you never know how it’s going to go. I felt good after that about where we were and what we can still build.”
“I love that combination, they are two great players. Every game I have played with them was fun and we made a lot of plays,” Bjork added.
“We just tried to communicate and work on that. I think that chemistry you kind of build and read off of each other and learn each other’s tendencies. Coyle has been in the league a long time, a great player. He knew you have to do that every game in order to be playing so he took charge on that and me and Heinen kind of followed along. At times there was definitely some chemistry there.”
It’s a different combination than most expected coming into training camp. But the Bruins have liked what they have seen so far from the third line; especially from Bjork.
And with good reason. Bjork, coming off his second straight injury-plagued season showcased his speed, precise decision making, confidence and versatility over the last two weeks.
Bruce Cassidy slotted Bjork t on his off wing on Coyle’s left side. The ex-Notre Dame standout has fit in rather seamlessly.
Cassidy raved numerous times about Bjork’s versatility to move to his opposite wing when necessary. But the organization loves him at his usual left wing spot, and that’s not a bad thing, either.
“I didn’t really know what I would be playing. They had kind of asked me what I was comfortable with,” Bjork said. “I’ve enjoyed playing on the left side a lot. It puts me on my forehand more which allows me to have different options and sometimes make easier plays. I’m trying to play simple and effective right now and let my skill show when the time is right. The left wing doesn’t impede that and I’ve liked playing on that so far.”
The Bruins would love a productive season from Bjork, but his health remains key. We have yet to see him make it through a full season.
A big jump for Bjork in his third season could give the Bruins another serious shot at making another push for the Stanley Cup.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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