By: Andrew Thompson Twitter: @Godwentwhoops
The Boston Bruins have wrapped up their preseason and get ready to start their 2017-18 season. The Black and Gold now have to whittle down the roster in order to get ready for opening night. The B’s have a few hard choices ahead of them as they try to figure out who will be playing in Boston and who’ll be sent down to Providence.
There have been several players who rose to the occasion. There are a few that didn’t live up to their billing. We take a look at a few of the ‘Studs-and-Duds’ who are battling for a roster spot.
Stud: Jake DeBrusk
DeBrusk put up 10 shots on goal during the preseason. While he wasn’t able to light the lamp, his tenacity earned him high marks from the Bruins coaching staff. DeBrusk averaged 15:29 of ice time per game, the most among the B’s non-goalie prospects.
Debrusk summed up his time in camp after the Bruins 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks. “I thought this camp was better than the three I’ve been here for now,” said DeBrusk (who looks like he’ll break through and make the opening night squad). “Even though I had some points last year, I think that this was my best camp. I showed more of what I can do and that I’m ready for this league and ready for the pace.
“It’s up to management now and hopefully they see that I can help the team win in different ways. It’s gonna be either really exciting or back to the drawing board.”
Dud: Frank Vatrano.
The Bruins were hoping that ‘Frank the Tank’ would have had an easy pass through training camp and the preseason. That hasn’t been the case. The 23-year old Vatrano seemed to be missing a step or two all through camp.
The 23-year old Vatrano wasn’t terrible. Vatrano put up 10 shots on goal during his four games on the ice for Boston. But he wasn’t where he needed to be, and that can prove disastrous when you’re competing against hungry young prospects who want his job.
Vatrano’s stock has fallen a bit off. At the moment, he’s looking at being a fourth-line winger. He might even end up in the unwanted position of being the B’s thirteenth forward on opening night.
“Frank was trying to create some plays off the rush. He was trying to turn some pucks over and he’s going to have to continue to work on it. He hasn’t scored in preseason, which probably bothers him when you’re a goal scorer,” said Cassidy of Vatrano’s preseason performance. “But he has to remember there’s lots of other parts of his game that he’s got to stick with.”
Stud: Anders Bjork.
The Bruins decided to give Bjork an early opportunity to prove himself early in the preaseon. Coach Cassidy decided to place Bjork with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bjork didn’t disappoint. He put up two goals for the B’s in preseason (and had a goal disallowed against the Flyers) and did well in all areas of the ice.
By the final game of the season, they pulled Bjork out of the lineup as a sign of their approval and confidence.
“Bjork looks like he’ll start in the lineup,” said coach Bruce Cassidy before the Chicago game. “I don’t want to say concrete…looks like he’s going to be a fit. We’ve used him with [Patrice Bergeron] and [Brad Marchand], but he can play the other side. So could he flip with [David] Krejci and [David Pastrnak] as well? We haven’t looked at that much, but it could happen.
“But we like where his game is at right now. We just think that Bjork is probably the furthest ahead of all the young guys.”
Patrice Bergeron was certainly impressed by the 21-year old Bjork. (If you can impress Bergy, you’ve done pretty darn well for yourself.)
“He’s got that speed and the smarts to get open and find the openings in the quiet ice,” said Bergeron. “It was a great play by him just to get open and for me to see him. He made it really easy. He skates well, he made some great plays, we just need to keep talking and finding each other more and more on the ice.”