Boston Bruins: Anders Bjork Is Here To Stay

( Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Scott Delano | Follow me on Twitter @Scottdelano3

When Anders Bjork was taken in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Draft, expectations of him were not too high. The American born skater saw 145 players selected before him. He blossomed into a superstar playing his colligate career at the University of Notre Dame. His spectacular play for the Fighting Irish left Bruins fans hopeful for a future star after signing his entry-level contract after his junior season.

Bjork entered the NHL with the Boston Bruins in the 2017-2018 season and slotted on the top line. He was playing his off-wing, but still showed signs of promise and hope. The skill was there, but he was undersized and not accustomed to the speed and grit of top-line NHL minutes. He logged 4 goals and 8 assists before a shoulder injury cut his season short.

The 2018 – 2019 NHL season was a frustrating one for Anders. This season, hopes were high for the slick shooting speedster. The results were not what many had hoped for playing in only 20 games. He once again injured the same shoulder from the year prior and another surgery made him a spectator for the season. Bjork did contribute a goal and two assists, but clearly, the injury hindered his abilities.

This season the Boston Bruins assigned Bjork to Providence to gain confidence, build his strength and ease him up to the big leagues. It wasn’t a popular decision sending the best-looking guy on the ice in the preseason to the minors, but as we’ve seen it was the right one. He missed the big clubs first

Anders started the year off playing for Providence before the injury bug bit the Bruins and he earned a call-up. He tallied eight points in only seven games. Since then he’s logged 15 games of action tallying three goals and an assist.

Anders Bjork scores a power-play goal from the lower dot

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Bruce Cassidy has chosen to leave the left-shot forward playing on the left side and Anders looks more comfortable in his natural position. There is a chemistry building between his linemates Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen. He’s going strong into the corners for puck battles, crashing the net for rebounds and standing his ground to set screens. His hard work has won the reward of power-play minutes with the second unit.

What’s more impressive is the trust he’s earned from Bruce Cassidy killing penalties. Strong play on the forecheck, getting back to play defense and taking away passing lanes with his speed has his game rounding out in all areas. Seeing Anders get a few more pucks behind the opposing team’s netminder will boost his confidence and show his potential.

Anders Bjork is blossoming into an NHL hockey player right in front of our eyes. He has the speed, vision, and skill to be a staple in Boston’s top six for years to come. Still just 23 years of age, he has only just begun to come into his own

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Boston Bruins – The Departed

( Photo Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Scott Delano | Follow me on Twitter @Scottdelano3

 

In the 2018 -19 NHL season the Boston Bruins took the St. Louis Blues to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, but ultimately came up short of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup as many already know. The Bruins returned the majority of their roster, but not everyone who started last season wearing the spoked B is still with the organization. Here’s a look at where former Boston Bruins players are and how they are doing a quarter of the way through the young season.

We can revisit this article deeper into the season to get a better understanding of how these former players are performing and if the Boston Bruins made the right choice by cutting ties with them.

Colby Cave

( Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images )

The first player the Bruins lost last year might have slipped your mind, but after being put on waivers with the hope of reassignment to Providence Colby Cave was claimed by the Edmonton Oilers. Cave got the call up to the Bruins because of injuries but played well enough to get picked up on the NHL’s waiver wire by the Edmonton Oilers before being sent down to Providence.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

20 Games Played
1 Goal
4 Assists

2018 – 19 Edmonton Oilers

33 Games Played
2 Goals
1 Assist

2019 – 20 Edmonton Oilers

5 Games Played
1 Goal

Gemel Smith

( Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Photo )

We lost one to waivers but claimed another. Gemel Smith was claimed off waivers from the Dallas Stars. He only played 3 games for the Black and Gold but made a connection with Patrice Bergeron that goes much further than hockey.

2018 – 19 Dallas Stars

32 Games Played
4 goals
1 assist

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins

3 Games Played
1 Goal

2019 – 20 Tampa Bay Lightning

3 Games Played
1 Goal

Ryan Donato

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The Boston Bruins made a deadline trade with the Minnesota Wild to get local product Charlie Coyle but had to give up Ryan Donato and a pick in exchange for him. This trade seemed pretty one-sided until Coyle put it all together in the playoffs. Donato is a solid hockey player but never caught stride in Boston.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

34 Games Played
6 Goals
3 Assists

2018 – 19 Minnesota Wild

22 Games Played
4 Goals
12 Assists

2019 – 20 Minnesota Wild

22 Games Played
2 Goals
2 Assists

Marcus Johansson

( Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Photo )

 Acquired at the deadline from New Jersey Devils in exchange for picks and found immediate chemistry with Charlie Coyle on the third line left wing. Unfortunately, he sustained a concussion that limited him to 10 games but came back healthy for the playoffs.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

10 Games Played
1 Goal
2 Assists

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins (Playoffs)

22 Games Played
4 Goals
7 Assists

2019 – 20 Buffalo Sabers

17 Games Played
4 Goals
6 Assists

Lee Stempniak

( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau / NHL / Getty Images )

A veteran presence that couldn’t crack the lineup. Brought over in a trade from the Devil’s a few years prior, Stempniak returned to Boston after two years in Carolina. He officially retired (Article by Max Mainville) from the game of hockey this year after 14 years in the NHL.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins

2 Games Played
0 Points

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson

( Photo Credit: Official Boston Bruins Twitter Account / @NHLBruins )

JFK played collegiate hockey with Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk at Boston University. The Boston Bruins drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. His style of play was compared to Patrice Bergeron, but he never lived up to those expectations. He is still a member of the organization, but he left to be closer to his family and play in his home country of Sweden. He could return to Boston; however, there is the chance he doesn’t.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins:

28 Games Played
3 Goals
6 Assists

Noel Acciari

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

The Johnston, Rhode Island native played 4 seasons with the Boston Bruins. He brought grit and determination to the fourth line. Even though he was a fan favorite, the business side of hockey led him to the sunshine state.

2018 – 19 Boston Bruins

72 Games Played
6 Goals
8 Assists

2019 – 20 Florida Panthers

21 Games Played
5 Goals
1 Assist

All stats are courtesy of https://www.hockey-reference.com/

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How Can The Bruins Utilize Charlie Coyle

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

By: Scott Delano | Follow Me On Twitter @Scottdelano3

There’s been a lot of talk of moving Charlie Coyle up to the second line to play alongside David Krejci to give the centerman more of a constant on his right side. While there’s no doubt that he is capable of playing the right-wing, he helps the team more playing in the middle of the ice.

Charlie has played an average of 77 games over the past 6 years. There is no question he has what it takes to play big minutes. He was a staple of consistency in the playoffs for the Bruins last year tallying 16 points in 24 games after putting up subpar numbers of 6 in 21 regular-season games for the Bruins.

I am a huge fan of Charlie Coyle. He’s a Boston guy with size, speed, and vision. He is not afraid to go into the corners and battle for a puck, and he does a great job of using his body to maintain possession coming off the boards.

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I want to purpose a different option. Instead of moving Charlie to the second line, what if we dropped him to the fourth line? It sounds crazy saying when I read it aloud, but Coach Bruce Cassidy utilizes his fourth line as Brad Marchand has said: “That’s not the fourth line… that’s 1A.”

Not afraid to start the fourth line against the opposing team’s first line, they usually set the tempo. During Boston’s 19 game point streak from 1/29/2019 – 3/10/2019, the fourth line started almost every one of those games. Cassidy will put them out on the ice in any situation.

The fourth line has many options. Last year we saw the fourth line consist of Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, David Backes, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciarri. Acciari is now a member of the Florida Panthers. Wagner and Nordstrom are coming off an injury sustained at the end of the year. Backes is being floated between the third line, fourth line, and press box. Kuraly is still here doing what he does best.

A fourth line of Sean Kuraly on the left, Charlie Coyle in the middle and Bret Ritchie on the right, could be the next coming of the merlot line. They wouldn’t drop the gloves as much, but it’d be a line we would love to watch with speed, physicality, and a lot of skill. They would create a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. You could even call it the third line if you wanted.

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We’ve already seen in the first two games that Cassidy is willing to put Kuraly on the left side. Ritchie has played on the right side of Coyle developing chemistry. And a third line of Danton Heinen, Par Lindholm and either David Backes or Chris Wagner would work for now without changing the roster.

By moving Coyle to the fourth line, the third line center position opens. Patrice Bergeron is 34 years old. David Krejci is 33 years old, and Coyle himself is a free agent at the end of this year. Though Par Lindholm is there now, Boston needs to introduce some youth at the center position to their lineup, and the third line is the perfecting learning area.

Jack Studnicka is making noise and could greatly benefit from watching and learning from these three centers. If not Studnicka, Trent Frederick is a former first-round pick with size could be an option on the third line. I would just like to see a player allotted time to learn from our great centers before it’s too late

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