Unlike his first two years where he started the season in Boston, the Bruins sent the oft-injured Anders Bjork to Providence to start his third professional campaign. Even with a solid preseason performance, GM Don Sweeney and the Bruins’ brass assigned him to the AHL for a confidence boost and a chance to play top minutes, something he wouldn’t have done with the big club to start the year.
Bjork earned his stripes down in Providence tallying a team-high eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games. Now, he’s returning in Boston on an emergency recall — with injuries to David Krejci (IR), Joakim Nordstrom and Karson Kuhlman opening up a roster spot for Bjork — in time for Tuesday’s second game of a home and home with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s really exciting. I’m grateful for this opportunity and I want to make the most of it,” Bjork told reporters following Boston’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “[I] was working hard to improve my game [in Providence] and trying to be a complete player [and play] a 200-foot game. Obviously I was trying to work on my offensive game and scoring.”
Bjork didn’t have many problems scoring at the AHL level. The Bruins, meanwhile, could use any help they can get in the secondary scoring department.
Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen put a band-aid to the Bruins’ secondary scoring woes with their respective tallies in Toronto on Saturday night. Bjork hopes to help out Tuesday in a projected third-line role with a pair of fourth-line cogs Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly.
“When you’re called up, you’re just grateful to help the team win and I’m going to do all I can to help the team win,” Bjork added.
Bjork stated the usual cliches following the morning session in Brighton. And he may very well fit in with Wagner and Kuraly assuming nothing changes between now and puck drop. Finding cohesive chemistry with the talented duo could only help him stay in Boston for good.
The Bruins love to keep Bjork at left wing. DeBrusk and Heinen rank ahead of Bjork on the depth chart. Both played right wing during their careers, but Heinen is the likely candidate to move back to his off-wing shall Bruce Cassidy deem fit. This may not be a long-term solution but would help in the short-term as Bjork hopes to see consistent minutes in a suitable top-six or top-nine role, especially given that some of the other options — mainly Kuhlman, David Backes and Brett Ritchie — haven’t panned out during the first month of the season.
So yes, putting Bjork with Kuraly and Wagner might be a good short term plan. But Krejci’s return from an upper-body injury — whenever that is — will leave more lineup questions for Cassidy and his coaching staff.
Bjork can help answer one of those questions beginning Tuesday with Kuraly and Wagner. Then he may very well see more playing time and a bigger role without any further trips back and forth on I-95.
Here’s a look at the projected lineup as Bjork makes his season debut on a night where Tuukka Rask appears in his 500th career NHL game.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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