By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_
Having a breakout performance in the playoffs can take your career to brand new levels. Someone can go from a third liner, to a super impactful player on a Stanley Cup caliber team. We’ve seen it recently with guys like Jake Guenztel, Nikita Kucherov and even Boston’s own Brad Marchand. And you know what? Nows a pretty good time for another Bruin to join that list, and I think that Bruin can be Anders Bjork.
Bjork has enjoyed a nice first full (ish) season with the big club. After two seasons cut short to shoulder injuries, there was some worry that the Notre Dame product would never be the same. Thankfully that was not the case. Featured primarily in a 3rd line role, Bjork was able to hit career highs in both goals (nine) and assists (ten) in 58 games. So realistically, could we see the soon to be 24-year-old follow in the aforementioned Marchand’s footsteps?
Marchand came into the league as a 21-year-old and was incredibly disappointing, putting up a single assist in 20 games. But the following season he was able to put up a very respectable 41 points and more importantly, 19 points in the playoffs. His league-leading 10 even-strength goals helped the Bs capture their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi helped Marchand become the star he is today. Now with Bjork getting a similar treatment, he can certainly find his way to have a break outperformance.
Bjork has succeeded everywhere he has played. He was on the same U18 Developmental Team as Jack Eichel, Alex Tuch, and Dylan Larkin, finishing 5th on the team in scoring. When he reached the college level, he was always the best player on the ice for the Fighting Irish. He was a Hobey Baker finalist in his final season in college, touting the “A,” he scored 21 goals and 52 points in just 39 games.
The lefty had a lot of success at the World Juniors as apart of team USA that had studs like Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk, and Zach Werenski on it. He was featured on the 2nd line with Christian Dvorak and Sonny Milano for most of the tournament, putting up three goals in the seven games. Most importantly scoring two goals in the bronze medal game, one of which was UNREAL.
There’s a bit in question regarding David Pastrnak (and now Ondrej Kase) and his availability at the moment. While I don’t think his absence will carry over into the playoffs, the Bruins would still be in good hands with Bjork on their top line. The Wisconsin native has had success playing beside the dynamic duo of Marchand and Bergeron. When paired together, the trio has produced a GF/60 rate of 4.02. For comparison, with David Pastrnak to the right, the line has a 3.63 GF/60. But even if he isn’t on the top unit, there’s no reason he can’t succeed on the 3rd line as Marcus Johansson and company did last postseason.
Bjork has developed some great chemistry with Charlie Coyle on the third line. Their combination of speed and skill makes them a dangerous duo in all ends of the ice. The two are excellent possession players, and it gives coach Bruce Cassidy the option to roll his lines in any way he pleases. Bjork’s two-way play has been a much-improved area in his game, making him far from a one-dimensional player. His hockey IQ is up there with the best on the Bs, and with all eyes on him, it’s a perfect time to show everyone how good he really is.