Bruin’s Offseason: All Quiet On The Eastern Front (1 of 2)

(Photo Credit: AP / Nam Y. Huh)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

The start of free agency saw the Bruins come out of the gate quickly, signing or extending seven players. Forwards: Brendan Gaunce, Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Ryan Fitzgerald…Defensemen: Connor Clifton and Josiah Didier…Goalie: Max Lagace. While none of these players were big-name signings, which was to be expected given the Bruin’s limited cap space and restricted free agents, it was an encouraging sign for the fans of the team.

Over the next three weeks, forward Peter Cehlarik signed a one year deal, forward Danton Heinen inked a two-year extension, and center prospect Pavel Shen signed his ELC. Since then, all has been quiet on Causeway Street, with very little being said about restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. This is not unusual for the Bruins. Since Sweeney was named GM, they like to keep everything internal and very little leaks out. The only comments on the subject came from Bruin’s President Cam Neely via Joe Haggerty two weeks ago.

That brings us to the present, and where the Bruins go from here. With the Backes’ contract still on the books, the team does not have the Cap space to acquire any more help at this juncture. So, what you see is what you get as training camp looms.

The only thing that appears certain at this point is that Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak are the B’s two netminders. In this two-part series, we will take a look at the openings and question marks the Bruins have at forward and on defense heading into the 2019-20 regular season. Part One will deal with the forwards and Part Two the defense.

The Bruins return a Top 4 that was as good as any in the NHL. Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and Krejci combined for 333 points. Jake DeBrusk had a “decent” sophomore season, and will likely be attached to Krejci’s left side, as he has been for the first two seasons of his career. His 27 goals in 2018-19 were more than acceptable, but it would be nice to see him up his assist and overall point totals, particularly as he was a staple on the PP most of the season.

The only real question mark in the Top 6 is who is going to play to the right of David Krejci. It seems that this has been an issue headed into every season since Nathan Horton left following the 2012-13 season. My first choice to fill one of the Top 6 right-wing positions would be Danton Heinen. I have been a proponent of putting Heinen with Bergeron and Marchand on a more permanent basis for a while now. He showed last season over a 16 game stretch when Pastrnak was injured that he can play and more importantly, produce, in that role, putting up 13 points during that span. This would allow the B’s to put Pastrnak on Krejci’s right-wing, giving him his first legit scoring threat there in years.

The Bottom 6 would appear to have four spots already locked up with Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, and Nordstrom filling those positions unless something unforeseen happens. That leaves only two openings for a wide variety of candidates.

They include incumbents Karson Kuhlman, Petr Cehlarik, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Anders Bjork. Newcomers Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Oskar Steen, and possibly Jack Studnicka (although the B’s have consistently maintained they want to keep him at center) round out the group. These players represent a wide variety of styles and experience levels and while all have question marks of one type or another, they give the Bruins the ability to go in a number of different directions.

Three of the contenders, Cehlarik, Lindholm and Ritchie are not waiver exempt, meaning the Bruins risk losing them if they don’t make the team out of camp. Every year this plays a factor around the league in who makes teams initially. Many times more talented players who are waiver exempt end up getting sent down to the AHL, at least to begin the season.

Bruins fans are well acquainted with Cehlarik. The 24-year-old former third-round pick has appeared in 37 NHL games over the last three seasons with mixed results. He has tended to start off quickly and then become less visible as his appearances mount. He’s a big body that uses his size for puck possession but is a below-average skater. The left-shot wing does have the flexibility to play both sides.

Lindholm was a point per game scorer for Skellefteå of the SHL, but it didn’t translate to the NHL with Toronto last season, where he had only 12 points in 61 games. He turns 28 in October and is primarily a center (51% in the dot with 400 attempts). His advanced stats were not great, but in his defense, he had only 30% offensive zone starts.

That brings us to the newly-signed Brett Ritchie. A big, physical scoring wing in his OHL days, who scored 41 for Niagara one year. The offensive side of his game has never manifested itself in the NHL, where he only has 33 career goals in 241 games. If I had to guess, I would say that the B’s see Ritchie as a cheap replacement for what Backes brings (on ice), if they can find a way to move 42.

bjork

(Photo Credit:  Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The next group of guys: Bjork, Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Fitzgerald, Steen, and Studnicka contain my two favorites to get the remaining spots and also my “long shot” candidate. All of these guys are waiver exempt, so they will be susceptible to being “stashed” in Providence to start the season. For that reason, I am going to rule out both Fitzgerald and Studnicka. I would much rather see them playing big minutes in all situations with Providence than watching from the press box in Boston.

My favorite to take the first open spot in the Bruin’s forward lineup this season is Anders Bjork. The 23-year-old graduate of the University of Notre Dame already has 50 NHL games under his belt but has yet to have any tangible impact because of a variety of injuries. Shoulder surgeries have cut short Bjork’s seasons in consecutive years, but perhaps the third time is the charm? Bjork has an NHL-caliber shot, a quick release, excellent skating skills and is a good three-zone player. The only thing he needs to stick in my opinion is a bit of luck and some good health. As a rookie, Bjork put up 3g/6a in his first 16 games (playing with Marchand and Bergeron) before suffering a concussion after a collision with Toronto’s Matt Martin. The Bruin’s staff seems to really like Bjork, so he’s a possibility for Top Six duty again, but personally, I would start him on the third line at left-wing and see what happens.

The other player I see cracking the lineup in October is Minnesota-Duluth’s, Karson Kuhlman. Bruin’s fans are already familiar with him due to his strong play down the stretch and into the playoffs, where he compiled eight points in 19 games. Kuhlman is another player (like Bjork) that possesses plus speed and skating ability and a strong defensive game. I believe he would be a strong complement to Bjork and Coyle at right-wing on the third line. Bruce Cassidy could use a line like that in a variety of situations, including up against the top two lines of opposing teams. Combine that with the confidence he already has in the “fourth line” and it would provide him a great deal of flexibility when matching lines.

A player I’m sure the Bruin’s brass would love to see grab a spot is former first-round pick Zach Senyshyn. Bruin’s fans would likely be relieved as well if he became an NHL regular so they did not have to hear about the 2015 draft any longer. Senyshyn has the size/speed ratio needed to roam the right-wing on the third line. The only issue is that the scoring touch the 6’2″, 200 pound Ottawa product displayed in the OHL (114 goals in 195 games) has yet to manifest itself as a pro in the AHL. His supporters point to his deployment as a third liner and the desire to develop his three-zone game as reasons why he has not scored more. His critics say that a lack of consistency and hockey IQ’s are the culprits. I would love to see Boston start him off in a fourth-line role and let him play his way higher into the lineup. However, it may be a case of musical chairs, where there are too many bodies and not enough seats to go around?

My dark horse candidate for the third-line right-wing position is Swede Oskar Steen. He was a 6th Round Pick (165 overall) in the 2016 draft. He got off to a slow start in his first two seasons with Farjestäd of the SHL. In 2018-19, Steen was given a larger role and ran with it. He finished the season with 17 goals and 20 assists in 46 games. It was good for 10th in scoring in the SHL and he was the only player in the Top 10 under the age of 26 (20 at the time). He also finished with 49 PIM’s (18th) which is impressive for a guy of Steen’s small stature (5’9″, 187-pounds). I had the pleasure of watching him at several of the Bruin’s Development Camps, and in my opinion, he was easily the most skilled forward I saw. He’s quick, explosive, and strong on his skates. Given that skill set and his build, he will definitely garner some comparisons to Marchand. Obviously, he has a long way to go before he ever reaches that level.

Bruins development camp

(Photo Credit:  Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

I wouldn’t put money on it, but if someone twisted my arm and forced me to put in in writing, this is what my starting lineup would look like for Opening Night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday, October 3rd:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Bjork-Coyle-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Ritchie

There are definitely some question marks in the Bruin’s top nine, but there are also a number of candidates that could fill those holes. The options, competition, and differing styles of the players involved should make for an interesting Camp where roster spots will be on the line.

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Salls: Ideal Bruins Lineup on Opening Night: Version One

Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets

(Photo Credit: Christopher Evans, Boston Herald)

By Carrie Salls | Follow Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to fellow Black N Gold Hockey writer Mike Cratty, who started the ball rolling with his thoughts on what the Bruins’ opening day lineup should look like, as well as to the other members of the Black N Gold writing team who have since added their insights. Here are the links to all of their contributions. If you haven’t already, please give them a read.

Mike Cratty, Garrett Haydon, Max Mainville, Yanni Latzanakis, Tim A. Richardson.

Without further ado, I’m ready to throw my hat into the ring. Keep in mind, this is the lineup I think will give the team the best chance to beat the Dallas Stars on opening night, Oct. 3, based on the current players available and who I believe will be available once the season rolls around. A lot could and likely will change in the meantime. Enjoy.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Heinen

For all the knocks on Danton Heinen’s lack of production in this sophomore season, Heinen proved in David Pastrnak’s absence during the 2018-2019 campaign that he, more than any other option coach Bruce Cassidy tried, can be a valuable asset lining up alongside Marchand and Bergeron. Heinen has the puck possession and defensive skills to hold up his end against other teams’ top lines. An added bonus is that Heinen himself recently acknowledged that he needs to work on pulling the trigger. If he can improve on the hesitation to shoot that seemed to especially plague him during the team’s playoff run, he will be a solid choice for the first line.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak

What to do with the second line? Not an easy fix for Cassidy and crew to be sure, but I think a little consistency can return this line to glory. Yes, the coaching staff tried moving Pastrnak to the second line a few times last season, with little to no success. However, the move rarely stuck for more than one or two games, sometimes even one or two periods. With a chance to build some chemistry with linemates Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci from the get-go, Pastrnak could very well bring a major scoring threat to a second line that has struggled to find its identity.

Third Line: Nordstrom – Coyle – Ritchie

Fourth Line: Bjork – Kuraly – Wagner

I myself almost cannot believe I am suggesting this, especially when it means breaking up arguably the best fourth line in the National Hockey League. However, the departure of Noel Acciari has changed the dynamic of that line a bit anyway. An argument certainly could be made to switch Anders Bjork and Joakim Nordstrom here, but I believe the team would be better served to use Bjork on a line with Sean Kuraly to start off the season. Bjork and Kuraly have played together in the past and may have a better comfort level than Bjork would with Coyle and Ritchie. This move is designed to help Bjork find his game, at least until he is far enough along in his comeback bid to warrant a promotion or until it appears he is not ready.

Extra Forwards: David Backes, Par Lindholm, Karson Kuhlman

Defense

Here is where it really starts to get tricky. Simply put, it doesn’t appear that the Bruins have enough available cap space to re-sign both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, especially in the wake of the New York Rangers’ decision to give young defenseman Jacob Trouba a seven-year contract worth $8 million per year. As a result, consider these suggested defensive pairings to be written in pencil.

Chara – McAvoy

Of the two restricted-free-agent D-men the Bruins still need to sign, the team has more leverage to keep McAvoy in the Spoked B, and he is arguably the more attractive option between the two, even if the difference is negligible. Assuming McAvoy remains a Bruin this year, there is no real reason to stray from this normal pairing, keeping in mind that Chara’s minutes may be reduced.

Krug – Clifton

Since this projection involves the Bruins re-signing McAvoy, it is difficult to imagine how Brandon Carlo could also remain in the fold, barring a trade or the somewhat unlikely chance of one or both agreeing to sign a bridge deal. Connor Clifton filled in admirably in every defensive pairing he was placed in last season. In fact, he played so well that he stuck around after the blue-line contingency got healthier. Krug is likely the heir apparent to Chara’s slot, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up more playing time if the captain’s ice-time is cut back.

Grzelcyk – Kampfer

Few would argue that Matt Grzelcyk would be higher up in the lineup on a team that did not have the defensive depth the Bruins enjoy. Gryz played with a revolving door of partners in the past season, including Clifton, Steven Kampfer and John Moore, and didn’t seem to miss a beat. Kampfer works hard and is a true team player. He deserves a shot to start the year.

Extra Defense: Kevan Miller, Urho Vaakanainen

Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak

This was one of the best goaltender tandems in the National Hockey League last year and there is no reason to believe that would change. Halak may be one player who could garner some trade interest and open up some cap space, but it would most likely not be enough to keep both McAvoy and Carlo in Boston.

Report: Bruins Prospect Looking To Terminate KHL Contract

( Photo Credit: KHL )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Rumor out of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League is Boston Bruins prospect Pavel Shen is eager to terminate his current contract with his Salavat Yulaev Ufa club. The 6′-1″ 183-pound Russian native played 20 games in the highest hockey league in Russia notching one assist. He also spent time in the lower levels of professional developmental hockey during the 2018-19 campaign with the VHL’s Toros Neftekamsk where he recorded two assists in 13 games and in the MHL with the Tolpar Ufa club posting one assist in five games played.

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Shen was selected in the seventh round ( 212th overall) of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. This was the first Russian prospect selected by the Bruins club since the days of Alexander Khokhlachev when the forward was selected in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 2019 NHL Draft also was the second year in a row that the B’s selected a Russian player when they took defenseman Roman Bychkov in the fifth round.

The now 19-year-old Shen was the 32nd-ranked European Skater per the NHL’s Central Scouting final ranking in the spring of 2018. Pavel is a highly-skilled forward that has a strong competitive edge and doesn’t back down when it comes to puck battles or standing up for himself. His speed and scoring ability have been great to watch during film sessions or the last two years he’s been at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts for the annual Bruins Development Camps. His speed is one of his best attributes and in my opinion, right he possesses a nasty NHL type release.

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Although Shen was a later round pick, his ability to make and read a play in tight coverage is another attribute I enjoyed watching as he has a knack of getting to the net and frustrate defenders with his stop on a dime and acceleration with a powerful stride after that. Just the way he skates from east to west is impressive, and his head and shoulder movements tend to have those attacking him either with a body check or getting the puck away from him have them fooled or heading in the opposite direction.

It sounds like the NHL Bruins are interested in signing the crafty forward to a three-year, entry-level contract to get him over to the bigger ice sheets in North America to learn the tighter defensive game as he continues to develop. I would expect this signing could land him in the American Hockey League with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins at least for the duration of his potential ELC deal. If he is in fact placed in the AHL with Providence, he’ll be joining a potentially lethal prospect list regardless of NHL prospect Rankings lately, or Bruins fans displeasure of how this NHL franchise has been drafting lately.

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If he goes to the AHL club in the state of Rhode Island, his addition will complement nicely alongside fellow Bruins prospects Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen, and Anders Bjork. Now, it remains to be seen if any of these players mentioned besides Shen make the NHL roster but in my opinion, a full season of development is never a bad idea.

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Cratty: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

Image result for Boston Bruins 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals

(Photo Credit: Associated Press/Charles Krupa)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Before I begin, I want to preface this by saying this will be the first of multiple versions. These won’t factor in any hypothetical trades and is based on what I think the best lineup would be on opening night for the Bruins.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork

If there is a spot for Anders Bjork on this team come opening night, I think it would be best to throw him on the first line. He showed comfortability there at times with the past, and putting a player with dynamic offensive upside such as Anders Bjork on the first line could really start to unlock his potential.

Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron will stay perched in their normal spots. I think there is a high chance we see Pastrnak on the first line as usual, but I think there is room for Pastrnak to succeed elsewhere in the lineup while being able to accommodate Bjork in a scoring role.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci stay where they are most familiar, and David Pastrnak gives another consistent scoring winger. The second-line right-wing position has been a revolving door for too long. This is the best internal option to fix the issue that the team has. Doing this could essentially give the Bruins a line 1A, 1B scenario.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Kuhlman

This line has the potential to be one of the better third lines in the NHL. Heinen and Coyle gelled really well together and Kuhlman has the potential to add great speed and forechecking ability on the wing. A line that can wear you down in all three zones and score.

Additionally, I hope Danton Heinen stays in this spot consistently, as an increase in production could be seen if he has a consistent home with consistent linemates. He was moving up and down the lineup a lot, and the same could be said for Karson Kuhlman. The two could complement each other quite well with Charlie Coyle seemingly clicking with any linemates thrown his way.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

With Noel Acciari off to Florida, Chris Wagner makes a lot of sense in his old spot alongside Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly. I don’t thin Acciari’s departure will deter this fourth line from being dominant yet again. When a change of pace is needed, Pär Lindholm and Brett Ritchie are available.

Extras: Lindholm – Ritchie

When it comes down to it, I think Lindholm and Ritchie were signed to be NHL depth forwards on this team. I don’t see either of them being sent down to the AHL unless they really struggle in camp.

With them in the fold, I could see David Backes being sent to the AHL for cap relief and so these guys can play. That is if Backes isn’t traded before opening night. Backes is still a serviceable NHL forward, but he struggled to find consistency for much of last season.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

When put together, this pair was pretty consistently dominant. Master and apprentice, both having displayed shutdown tactics in different eras of the NHL, as well as alongside one another. There is no need to break up this pairing.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

Same deal here. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo contrasting styles actually complemented one another quite well. Krug had an excellent season yet again, primarily offensively and on the power play, and Carlo had arguably the best season of his young career. No need to break it up.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

The fact that this is the third defensive pairing really shows how deep the Bruins are in the top-six. This could be a second pairing on plenty of other NHL teams. Towards the latter half of the season and into the playoffs, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton were rock solid together. Two talented young puck movers who can break the puck out effectively and establish offense and speed through the neutral zone. A larger sample size of Grzlecyk and Clifton would serve the team well.

Extras: Kampfer – Miller (IR) – Moore (LTIR)

Steven Kampfer is the seventh defenseman until Kevan Miller and John Moore return. Miller’s situation is tough. It’s hard to tell if he will be healthy enough to suit up on opening night. In this scenario, he isn’t ready to suit up due to the fact that he is still recovering. Being on IR frees up a roster spot until his return. Moore’s recovery timetable is set to be longer, so he is on LTIR in this scenario, freeing up yet another roster spot. Whether their eventual returns affect the top-six remains to be seen.

Goalies: Rask – Halak

This is a no-brainer. Rask and Halak bring us to 23 on the opening night roster.

This is a balanced lineup top to bottom that I hope Bruce Cassidy won’t have to shuffle around all that much. Three forward lines that can all score, a great fourth line, and a rock-solid top-six defensive core, backstopped by two great goalies. A lot can change between now and camp. We’ll see how things shake out.

Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Anders Bjork

BjorkB

Photo Courtesy of NHL.com

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Anders Bjork was drafted in the fifth-round (146th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. The young forward was projected to go in the fifth or sixth round, so the Bruins drafting him here was not a stretch by any means. When a player is drafted in the middle or later rounds, not a lot is really expected of him. It is one of those things where if the player turns out to be useful great, and if not that’s okay too. Coming into the draft the Mequon, Wisconsin native was overlooked by a stronger forward class. However, he did possess strong offensive instincts, vision, creativity, and puck handling skills. Bjork’s major areas of concern were his defensive game and playing away from the puck. He had obvious holes in his game there, but those were overlooked, and the Bruins drafted him. Now that we know the when and why let’s get into what Anders has done since being drafted.

BjorkND

Photo Courtesy of UND Athletics

The 2014-15 season was Anders Bjork’s first at the University of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish play in the grueling Hockey East Conference so it would be a good test for the young forward to see how he measured up. During his freshman season, the Wisconsin native had a promising year in which he netted 7 goals while dishing 15 assists for 22 total points and a +/- rating of –3 in 41 games played. That is a point per game total of 0.53. For a fifth-round draft pick playing in one of the tougher conferences in the NCAA, having a season like that was something the Bruins were happy with. Despite the successful first season in college, the speedy forward was being overlooked as a prospect. There were other forwards in the system that had a higher profile, but he was determined to show his worth to not only Boston but the rest of the NHL.

Something that was important to Bjork during his sophomore campaign was building upon his freshman season and putting his name on the prospect map for the Bruins organization. In 2015-16 the young Fighting Irish forward did just that. In 35 games played the slick winger potted 12 goals while tallying 23 assists for 35 total points and a +/- rating of +28. This means he was scoring at a point per game clip of 1.00. Bjork was able to really show off his offensive skills during this season. His ability to create in space, and get others involved in the offense were highlighted during the year. The Boston front office really started taking notice of their young prospect during this season. It was a good year to build on going forward.

As the 2016-17 season started, it brought added expectations and change for Bjork. It was his junior year at Notre Dame, and he was given a leadership role with the Fighting Irish when they added the “A” to his sweater. The newly appointed alternate Captain took that role and skated with it. The skilled winger took a giant leap forward and had a monster year. In 39 games he found the back of the net 21 times while also dishing out 31 assists for 52 total points and +/- rating of +17. That is a point per game clip of 1.33. Boston was extremely pleased with this season and the young forward shot up prospect rankings everywhere. Not only that, he was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist which is the award given to the best hockey player in the NCAA. It was a season which caused wild speculation about the possibility of the Fighting Irish star forgoing his senior year to sign an entry-level contract with the Bruins.

After much deliberation, Anders Bjork decided to sign a three-year entry-level contract before the 2017-18 NHL season. The Notre Dame Alum had a strong pre-season. The Bruins organization was really impressed with his speed, his shot, and his puck handling ability. They were so impressed that he started the year with the big club in Boston playing alongside David Pastrnak and David Krejci. The then-rookie started out on fire scoring seven points in his first 11 games. That’s when the season took a tough turn. He went on a cold streak which caused him to be sent down to Providence for a few games to work on his offense.

The former Hobey Baker finalist spent nine games in the AHL netting two goals and dishing out two assists for four total points and a +/- rating of –1. After those nine games, the Wisconsin native was called back up to the NHL, and in his first game back he had his rookie season cut short when he suffered a shoulder injury which would require season-ending surgery. His rookie season ended with stats of 4-8-12 in 30 games played. Despite getting injured and being streaky, the former Fighting Irish forward showed flashes of great offensive ability proving he can be a middle to top-line scorer in the league.

Coming into this season, Bjork was healed from his shoulder surgery and had a solid training camp coming off an injury. The second-year forward started the year playing sparingly spending most of his time playing on the third line. As a result of the Notre Dame alum was sent down to Providence to work on his game. While in the AHL, Bjork was playing well in 13 games he netted one goal and dished out nine assists for 10 total points and a +/- rating of -3. In his last game played something awful happened, and the Wisconsin native re-injured his shoulder and needed season-ending surgery for the second year in a row. While in Boston he managed to play in 20 games finding the back of the net one time and dishing out two assists for three total points and +/- rating of -1.

Anders Bjork has had a tough first few professional seasons of hockey. Having back to back shoulder injuries to cut short a season makes it hard to grow and develop as a hockey player. Despite this, I think that the skilled forward can be a very good second or third line wing in the NHL. He has shown flashes of great offensive ability both in his rookie year in Boston and playing this year in Providence. I believe that having surgery early when he did, and training and getting healthy for the 2019-20 is the best move the young winger could have made. I think next season we will finally see a fully healthy and fully motivated Anders Bjork and we are going to love what we see.

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Bruins Issue Update On Forward Bjork

boston-bruins-anders-bjork-bench-102017Photo Courtesy Of NBC Sports

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

On Friday morning, the Bruins issued an injury update on Anders Bjork who had missed time in Providence due to a shoulder injury. Bjork underwent successful surgery on his left shoulder which was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital. His expected recovery time is approximately five to six months.

 

Bjork skated in 20 games for Boston this season, posting a goal and two assists for three points. He also appeared in 13 games for Providence this season, totaling ten points on a goal and nine assists. Unfortunately this is the second shoulder surgery that the 22-year-old has underwent. After appearing in 39 games for Boston and Providence last year, Bjork was shut down for the season after suffering the injury against the Anaheim Ducks in Boston in late January.

The Mequon, Wisconsin native was drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round (146th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was signed to a three-year entry level contract in May of 2017. His first NHL point came on October 5th, 2017 against the Nashville Predators in Boston. His first career goal came just 12 days later in Arizona against the Coyotes. This is another tough break for the young forward but he should be healthy by the time the 2019-20 season begins.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Recap

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Week 12 for the Providence Bruins brought three straight games to end the 2018 calendar year. The top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins certainly hope they can turn the 2018-19 campaign around and show better results in the new year. At about the half-way point of the current hockey season, the team from Rhode Island sits in the second to last spot in the seventh position in the Atlantic Division and outside the American Hockey Leagues, Calder Cup Playoff picture holding the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Providence club has a 14-15-5-0 season record after 34 games played accruing 33 points and 18 points away from catching division front-running Charlotte Checkers who have a 24-8-3-0 and 51 points. The B’s have given up 102 goals while scoring 105 needs to tighten up as a team and come to the rink with a 60 minute a night effort regardless of the up and down season thus far. The first game of 2019 is Friday night which ends a six-game road trip that saw the B’s go 2-4 and the club has gone 3-6-1-0 in their last ten games.

Hopefully, Providence is ready as the workload for week 13 isn’t going to be easy with another three-straight game schedule this weekend with two of those games at the Dunkin” Donuts Center in Providence where the B’s are 7-3-2-0. The one roadie of the weekend is in nearby in Springfield, Massachusetts against the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center where the Bruins are 1-2 and have a season road record of 7-12-3-0.

Let’s take a look back at the weekend that was for the Providence Bruins and some key details to who got involved offensively in the three games that ended the season-long road trip.

Friday, December 28th, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Road Game)

( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The first of the three started at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania against the Phantoms who sit in the Atlantic’s third position. The Lehigh club owned a majority of the game scoring goals in the first and third periods being up 2-0 and outplaying the visiting Bruins team until the half-way point of the last frame where the B’s started showing signs of life. Bruins prospect forward Joona Koppanen scored his first goal of the season and third of his career at the 12:39 mark of the third period assisted by rookie forward Karson Kuhlman and veteran defenseman Chris Breen.

Koppanen who started the 2018-19 season with the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators took advantage of a Phantoms turnover in their own zone to come in on Lehigh Valley goaltender Alex Lyon all alone to wrist one home for the first and only Bruins goal of the contest. The Phantoms would put the dagger in the hearts of the visiting Providence club with a shorthanded empty-netter with 30 seconds remaining in the game to seal the 3-1 victory over the B’s. Bruins rookie goaltender Dan Vladar got the start in goal stopping 17 of 19 shots in the loss. Vladar is 6-7-2-1 on the season and holds a 2.67 goals-against-average, and .889 save percentage in 16 games in this his rookie campaign.

The Providence Bruins would outshoot the Phantoms in the game by a 34 to 20 margin and would go zero for five on the man advantage. The Bruins currently sit in the 9th position when talking about the leagues best powerplay at 20.8%. This was the first time in two previous games the B’s didn’t score on the man advantage but also have to mention the exceptional play on the other side of the special team’s spectrum concerning the penalty kill. The Bruins are ranked second in the league with an 86.6% and ranked third in the league on the road with a man down.

Saturday, December 29th, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. The Hershey Bears (Road Game)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The first of two games against the Hershey Bears would have the Providence club travel to the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania to play the division dwelling 14-18-0-2 Hershey Bears. As in most night’s this season, the Bruins would come from behind after the Bears scored the first goal of the game late in the second period. After being down one for the first forty minutes of play, It seemed the message in between the second and third intermission lit a fire under the asses of the Bruins squad.

During the last period of the game, the B’s would, in my opinion, have their best late game heroics of the year posting four straight goals to end the night against the team from the chocolate city. Veteran defenseman Cody Goloubef scored two straight in the period to leap over the Hershey team by the score of 2-1 notching his second and third goals of the season with his third of the year coming on the powerplay. Both of Goloubef’s goals on this night we assisted by forwards Peter Cehlarik and Mark McNeill. Late in the game Providence rookie forward Karson Kuhlman would take advantage of the empty net after the Bears goaltender was pulled to score his 5th of the year and a shorthanded tally.

After a 3-1 Providence lead late in the third, Hershey Bears Head Coach Spencer Carbery would pull his netminder once again with pretty much the same results. Veteran forward McNeill would seal the win with his own empty net goal in the yawning cage for a 4-1 B’s victory. Zane McIntyre got the win in goal against the Bears stopping 23 of 24 shots for his eighth victory of the season. Zane now sits at 8-8-3 with a 3.02 goal-against-average, and .880 save percentage.

Sunday, December 30th, 2018, Providence Bruins vs. The Hershey Bears (Road Game)

  ( Photo Credit:  Providence Bruins / Flickr )

The final game of the weekend and the seasons longest road trip thus far had the Providence and Hershey teams meet once again at the Giant Center, but on this night there would be different results. The Bruins continued the trend of coming from behind as the Bears got on the board at the 5:06 mark of the first period. In the second period, the B’s would get closer by tying the score at one on a sweet backhand goal from rookie Kuhlman who accepted a heads-up pass from Trent Frederic at the side of the net. A big part of this goal from Kuhlman was the hard work and forechecking abilities of prospect Cameron Hughes who turned over the puck and brought it back of the net where a fortunate Frederic was there and quick to read the play to the crashing Kuhlman at the 11:16 mark of the second period.

Almost as soon as the puck was dropped after Kulman’s sixth goal of the year in the second period, the momentum quickly changed for the Hershey team and instantly fired back over a minute later to go ahead 2-1. Providence just didn’t have what it took as the Pennsylvania team clamped down defensively not giving the Rhode Island club any offensive opportunities ending the game with the same score mentioned above. McIntyre got his second straight start of the weekend taking the 2-1 loss stopping 17 of 19 Hershey shots and suffering his eighth defeat of the season. This was the first time this season McIntyre started consecutive games in as many nights.

Honorable Mentions

F Peter Cehlarik – Peter the great has played very well as of late posting 2-9-11 numbers in his last 12 games.

F Mark McNeill – In the last seven games, the rugged AHL veteran has 2-6-8 numbers. He has a total of 17 points in 22 games in his first year as a Providence player.

F Karson Kuhlman – After going a season-long five game stretch without a point, the former NCAA National Champion has 3-1-4  numbers in a four-game point streak.

D Cody Goloubef – After missing a majority of the December 2018 month, the veteran defenseman came back from an injury on December 29th to score two goals and continue a six-game point streak to have that foiled in Sunday’s loss to Hershey where he went pointless.

Not So Honorable Mentions

F Ryan Fitzgerald – The Providence leading point getter has been off the scoresheet for the last three games. Not saying he’s playing bad but this is the longest pointless stretch since he went five games from October 19th to November 2nd, 2018.

F Anders Bjork – After going the first seven games since his demotion to Providence where he went 1-8-9 in that timeframe has only produced one assist in this last six games. In my opinion from the games I’ve watched him play this season in the AHL, his game hasn’t gotten much better than what Bruins fans saw from him in his limited time in the NHL.

F Trent Frederic – The former first-round selection of the NHL Bruins has 1-2-3 numbers in his last 16 games. In 26 games in his first full season in the AHL Frederic has contributed 6-2-8 numbers and would like to see him get a little more offensive numbers moving forward with the skill set he brings to the team.

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Bruins Won’t Call Up Bjork…Yet

Image result for anders bjork bruins(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

It’s only Human Behavior (especially in Reykjavik) to wonder what’s up with the B’s and Anders Bjork this season. What’s not “up” at the moment? His Winter Classic call from Providence.

According to Bruins’ bench boss Bruce Cassidy, the talented 22-year-old winger just isn’t ready to consistently compete at the NHL level right now. And to thrust him into such a big game, well, that just wouldn’t be fair (even with him playing his entire collegiate career for the Fighting Irish).

“I think that’s too much pressure. We all know the deal with Anders… he was a terrific player for Notre Dame, but our roster is what it is. So if he comes in, what about the guys that have helped us get here?” — NESN interview excerpt from Conor Ryan, Boston Sports Journal

Most likely, It’s Oh So Quiet in the Bjork household currently (maybe even in Iceland as well). But certainly not on social media, where fans, bloggers, wildly speculative hockey heretics, and passionate insiders are all chiming in on the breaking Bjork news:

So, what does this all mean in the big B’s picture? Should Bjork just quit & Play Dead now? I certainly hope not. But, I do agree with “Bruins Arsenal” from Twitter who’s timely take on the situation may be the most realistic given the circumstances:

I’m more of the position… I’m not [left] winging it just yet… that the latter is the more likely long-term scenario since the B’s brass knows, and has invested in, No. 10’s game, fundamentals & skill-set–and for quite some time now. The organization also wants to ensure Bjork succeeds both now AND later, even if it means missing out on an opportunity near and dear to him, his Alma Mater and his family and friends, thus leaving him in a Violently Happy mood if I had to guess (I’m also thinking of another “moody” Bjork if you can’t tell by now).

Image result for anders bjork bruins(Photo Credit: WEEI)

But, enough with all the guess work and would’ve/should’ve prognostications, I say. I couldn’t even convince an Army of Me to vote for sentimentality over common sense. Remember, Bjork DID lace up the skates for 20 games recording only 1 goal for the Black N’ Gold in Boston before being sent down to Providence to work on his game, build up his confidence and prepare for a big return to the B’s (with Big Time Sensuality no doubt).

So that return won’t be in time for the Winter Classic, which does kinda suck as the aforementioned “Bruins Arsenal” tweeted. However, I’m confident Bjork will return — just like his entertaining namesake did for her epic Vulnicura album — and with plenty to prove in the process. As we learned from another notable Notre Dame alum of sporting significance, Mr. Rudy Ruettiger, NOT getting into “the big game” maybe the best form of motivation ever.

 

If you don’t think so, that’s OK. All is Full of Love for me right now with the B’s winning big against Buffalo and gaining ground on that coveted number three playoff seed in the Atlantic. And all will be good with Anders soon, too. I just hope the parts of Bruins Nation that think It’s In Our Hands when it comes to this kid’s future maybe trust in the process just a bit more before ripping the team, management & current players apart. Because Possibly…Maybe what’s going on behind the scenes right now is what we’ll all be celebrating later.

Now, wouldn’t that be (Winter) classic, indeed?

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 12 Preview

PBruins

(Photo Courtesy of Amanda Statland – The Sin Bin )

By Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

This weekend is the last leg of the 5-game road trip for the Providence Bruins. Our boys in black and gold currently sit at 7th in the Atlantic Division with a record of 13-13-5 (31 points) and 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. The team continues the aforementioned road trip on Friday traveling to Allentown, Pennsylvania to take on the home team Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center. The Providence club finishes up the road trip with two games against the host Hershey Bears in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday.  

Friday, December 28th Providence Bruins vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AWAY) 

The Friday match-up marks the third time the Bruins have faced the Phantoms this season. In the first meeting, Lehigh Valley beat Providence 5-4 with the Bruins getting goals from Karson Kuhlman, Cameron Hughes, Colby Cave, and Wiley Sherman. Meanwhile, goalie Dan Vladar was off his game stopping 21 of 26 shots in net. The second meeting between the two teams saw a much better result for the Bruins. The Baby B’s beat the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Austin Fyten (2), Cameron Hughes (2), Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jordan Szwarz, while goalie Dan Vladar looked much better in net stopping 18 of 21 shots.  

The third game of the season series will not be easy for Providence. Lehigh Valley comes into the game 18-9-1-2 (39 points) and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games good for 3rd in the Atlantic Division with games in hand. To make matters worse, over the past five seasons the Bruins are 4-6-0-1 at Lehigh Valley and 8-11-2-1 overall in that time frame. A major key in this game will be the number of goals scored. On the year the Phantoms score 3.8 goals a game, and Providence is 3-12-5 when giving up 3+ goals in a game. Along those same lines, the Baby B’s are 10-5-2 when they score first. Grabbing the early momentum and keeping it will go a long way to shutting down the Flyers’ affiliate. Despite the uphill battle, the Baby B’s hope they can break through against the Phantoms and grab a much needed two points.  

Saturday, December 29th and Sunday, December 30th Providence Bruins vs. Hershey Bears (AWAY) 

The Saturday and Sunday games will mark the second and third time Providence has played Hershey this season. In the first meeting between the two clubs, the Baby B’s beat the Washington Capitals’ affiliate 6-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Jordan Szwarz (2), Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh, Kyle Cumiskey, and Tanner Pond while goalie Zane McIntyre looked great in net stopping 19 of 21 shots he faced.  

These next two games are ones the Bruins should be looking forward to. Hershey comes into them 12-17-0-2 (26 points) and 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games good for 8th in the Atlantic Division. On top of that, Providence holds a 4-4-2 record in Hershey over the past 5 seasons and a 12-6-2-1 record overall in that time frame. A few things to look at this weekend, Providence is 9-6-2 when playing on Saturday or Sunday this season, and are 10-3-2 when leading after two periods. If they can get an early lead, the home team from Hershey could melt from the pressure. These are two games the Baby B’s should win to grab a needed four points in the standings.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins 

Hot 

Jordan Szwarz: Over the past 5 games the Bruins’ captain has played very well, scoring three goals and tallying two assists for five total points. Leading by example is big for Szwarz who has stats of 10-5-15 overall this year. Something to start looking for as the season progresses, if Szwarz scores 20 goals this year, he would be the fifth player in Providence Bruins history with three 20+ goal seasons. One thing the OHL product does have going for him is that he’s scoring 0.625 points per game which is higher than his AHL career mark of 0.59.

Peter CehlarikOver his past 5 games Cehlarik has netted two goals while dishing out four assists for six total points. He has looked good recently, and overall on the season, he’s posted 5-15-20 numbers. If the young forward can keep up these numbers we may see him up in Boston before the season is through.

Not 

Tanner Pond: Pond has produced 1-0-1 numbers in his last 5 games. Hopefully, the center can pick it up this weekend for Providence and light up the score sheet. The gritty forward has 24 penalty minutes in 13 games in his time with the Providence Club as he’s spent most of the 2018-19 season with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. Over his career in the ECHL, the former Northeastern Husky has scored at a 0.69 point per game clip with stats of 16-28-44 in 64 games. Given a little time to acclimate himself to the AHL’s talent, Pond could find himself in the hot instead of the not category.

Karson Kuhlman: Kuhlman has found the back of the net once in his last 5 games of action. The former NCAA National Champion and 2018 Tournament MVP with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs has been a streaky player since joining the Providence club after his commitment to his college team was over. The former Bulldog is another player who may just need some time getting used to the skill level of the AHL before climbing out of the not category. With Providence, he’s scoring at a 0.33 ( 4-7-11 in 33 games) point per game clip which is less than his college days of 0.48 (39-41-80 in 166 games).

My players to watch this weekend: 

Up Front: 

Anders Bjork: Since being sent down to Providence, Bjork is scoring at a 1.00 point per game pace with 1-9-10 numbers in 10 games played thus far. Look for him to keep it up this weekend. If he plays well, we could see Boston call him up for the Winter Classic which is being played at his Alma Mater Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

On The Blue Line: 

Connor Clifton: Clifton has played well for Providence this year posting 3-6-9 numbers in 22 games. He even saw a call-up to Boston when they needed help with injuries. Look for him to keep up his play this weekend. The young defenseman’s uptick in scoring is not as surprising as one may think. While at Quinnipiac University he was scoring 0.36 points per game (19-37-56 in 156 games). This is much closer to this season’s 0.41 points per game than last’s of 0.24. 

In Net:  

Dan VladarI would look for Vladar to have a good weekend for Providence, especially with the games against Hershey. The Bears have had a rough go of it this season, and Vladar could shine against them. Something to look for, the young goalie is 4-3-1 on the road this year stopping 212 of 234 shots for a .906 save percentage and  2.51 goals against average.

I am optimistic that the Baby B’s will find some magic this weekend before they return home. The game against Lehigh Valley will be tough. However, the two games against Hershey are ones they should absolutely win. If our boys in black and gold can skate away from the weekend with at least four points, it would go a long way to helping them climb the Atlantic Division standings. We will catch you up next week and let you know how the team fared but feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and Go, B’s, Go!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 11 Preview

Senyshyn

(Photo Courtesy of the Providence Bruins)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

This weekend kicks off a five-game road trip that won’t see the Providence Bruins return to the Dunk until January 4th, 2019 when they play the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Baby B’s currently sit 6th in the Atlantic Division with a record of 12-12-5 (29 points) and are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. The team starts the aforementioned road trip on Friday traveling to Binghamton, New York where they play the home Binghamton Devils at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The Providence club finishes up the weekend on Saturday by playing the host Springfield Thunderbirds in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Bruins hope they can find some road magic this holiday season.

Friday, December 21st Providence Bruins vs. Binghamton Devils (AWAY) 

The Friday match-up marks the first time the Bruins have played the Devils this season, and it’s one that they should be looking forward to. Over the past 5 years, the Baby B’s have a 13-5-1-1 record against the New Jersey affiliate, including a 9-1 record in Binghamton during that time and a 4-0 overall record last season. Providence hopes to carry that success into this season. Binghamton has had a rough go of it thus far. They come into the game with a record of 12-16-3 (27 points) and are 4-6 in their last 10 games. This is a game that Bruins should absolutely win, especially if they want to climb the standings and make their way into playoff contention.  

Saturday, December 22nd Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (AWAY) 

This game marks the third time the Bruins and Thunderbirds have faced off this season. In the first meeting, Springfield beat Providence 6-3 with the Bruins getting goals from Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Colby Cave. Meanwhile, goalie Zane McIntyre was a little off his game stopping 14 of 20 shots. The second meeting between the two teams saw a different score with the same result. The Florida Panther’s affiliate beat the Baby B’s 4-2 with the Bruins getting goals from Martin Bakos and Jan Kovar, while goalie Zane McIntyre looked much better stopping 17 of 20 shots in net.

The third game of the season series won’t be much easier for Providence. Springfield comes into it 15-8-2-3 (33 points) good for third in the Atlantic Division with games in hand and is 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games. Despite their struggles in two games this year, something that bodes well for the boys in black and gold is that they have an 8-5-2 record in Springfield over the past 5 years and a 17-9-2 record overall in that time frame.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins 

Hot: 

Anders Bjork: Since being sent down to Providence Bjork has been great. Over his past 7 games, he has netted 1 goal and dished out 7 assists for 8 total points. This is exactly what you want to see from a player who was sent down to work on their game. 

Zach Senyshyn: Senyshyn’s last 7 games have been fruitful seeing him score 5 goals. His speed and scoring ability has been on full display, and it has been great to see. Keep an eye out for it this weekend. 

 Not: 

Austin FytenOn the flip-side, the last 7 games for Fyten have been ones he’d like to forget. The left wing has 0 goals and 1 assist, and on top of that, he was suspended for the last game because of a slashing incident. Hopefully, he can put all that behind him and have a good road trip.

Trent Frederic: Frederic has tallied 0 goals, and 1 assist over his past 7 games. Hopefully, the young center can pick things up for the Bruins. They need a spark offensively, and if Frederic can provide that, it would do a lot for the team this weekend. 

My players to watch this weekend: 

Up Front: 

Zach SenyshynSenyshyn seems to have found the scoring touch netting 5 goals in his last 7 games. This is great news for the Bruins and their fans. There are people that were worried his development was taking too long, but it looks like being patient is going to pay off.  

On The Blue Line: 

Jeremy Lauzon: He was recently sent back to Providence from Boston. In his mini stint with the big club, the defenseman looked good in both ends of the ice. I expect him to take what he learned in Boston and use it to develop more in Providence.  

In Net: 

Zane McIntyre: I would look for him to have a good weekend for the Baby B’s. It is an excellent chance for the goalie to make up for the losses against Springfield and come up huge for the club.  

Overall, it could be an up and down weekend for Providence playing in a game they should win and a game that could go either way. Hopefully, the Baby B’s can take care of business against Binghamton while also breaking through against Springfield. It would be a big 4 points for the club and would go a long way to helping them climb the Atlantic Division standings. I will catch you up next week and let you know how the team fared but feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and Go, B’s, Go! 

Interested in going to a Providence Bruins or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

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