Bruins Game 31 Preview: Arizona Coyotes

DeBrusk Yotes

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Arizona Coyotes are in town to take on the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. They are skating into TD Garden having lost their last two games against the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks. This, however, came after a four-game winning streak.

The Bruins have trended in a polar direction. They dropped three games in a row before winning their last two contests against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. They will be looking to increase their winning streak to three victories while the Coyotes will be looking to end their two-game slide.

Who’s Hot?

Torey Krug has been on fire. He has contributed to five of Boston’s last eight tallies with two goals and three helpers in his last two games. The Bruins’ power play has benefitted from Krug’s return to action after missing a big chunk of the season due to an injury suffered during the preseason. He has two goals and 15 assists in 19 games – 10 of those helpers coming on the man advantage.

David Krejci has two goals and two assists in his last three games. One of those helpers came on Krug’s overtime-winning goal on Sunday. The centerman hasn’t crumbled under the pressure of filling Bergeron’s skates. In the 10 games without Bergeron, Krejci has scored two goals and tallied five helpers.

Arizona Coytes at Boston Bruins

(Inside Hockey/ Brian Fluharty)

Clayton Keller took the league by storm last year, finishing third in the Calder Trophy race. In his last five games, Keller has put up two goals and four assists, adding to his team-leading total of 20 points in 28 games. This puts him on pace for 58 points this season, which would fall short of his 65 points from last season. Nevertheless, Keller is always a threat and the Bruins will have to keep close tabs on him on Tuesday evening.

Who’s Not?

When injuries struck, Steven Kampfer was reliable defensively – at least at first. He logged time on the second defensive pair but has seen most of his time on the bottom unit. Kampfer isn’t expected to contribute much offensively, but just one assist in 18 games is bothersome. Coupling this with the bad penalties he has taken, Kampfer has gone from reliable to inconsistent for Boston thus far. The Bruins will likely need Kampfer in the lineup for an extended period of time as Kevan Miller and Zdeno Chara continue to recover with injuries. He has shown that he has what it takes to help plug the holes – he just needs to find more consistency.

Darcy Kuemper will be getting the start for the Coyotes on Tuesday. He enters play with a 4-5-2 record accompanied by a 2.71 GAA and .914 SV%. Kuemper hasn’t started since Nov. 21st which could either work for or against him. We’ll soon see if the time off has him fresh and ready to go or if he will be rusty having not played in nearly three weeks.

Bruins vs. Coyotes Outlook

Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will be appearing in his 700th NHL game on Tuesday in Boston. The 31-year-old has 24 goals and 131 assists in the 699 games prior.

Arizona has been a hot-and-cold team all season long. They currently have a record of 13-13-2, following up a number of winning streaks with three-to-four game slides. The Bruins will be hoping to tack on to Arizona’s current two-game losing streak. The Bruins have also been hot and cold, though not quite as much as the Coyotes.

Tuukka Rask will be starting for Boston. Meanwhile, Jake DeBrusk has been ruled out with an upper-body injury.  The Bruins are coming off two big wins against division foes and will look to carry the confidence those two games bred into their date with Arizona.

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Bruins Game 20 Preview: Arizona Coyotes

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PHOTO CREDITS: (RALPH FRESO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Boston Bruins and the Arizona Coyotes will meet in Glendale, Arizona for an 8:00pm EST game. The 10-6-3 Bruins are coming off of a 1-0 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars last night in Dallas and will be looking to get back into the win column following two consecutive losses.

The 9-8-1 Arizona Coyotes are currently sixth in the NHL’s Pacific Division, coming off of a surprising 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators, who have been atop of the NHL’s league standings since the season began. Forward Michael Grabner and defenseman Jason Demers tallied the goals for the Coyotes in the win.

Who’s Hot

While the offence was held quiet against Dallas, Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk notched his sixth and seventh goal of the 2018-19 season in the 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. DeBrusk brought his point totals to 7-2-9 in 19 games so far this season. More goals for DeBrusk is a good sign and the hope is that he can continue it in Glendale.

Like DeBrusk, David Pastrnak was kept off the scoreboard in Friday’s loss to the Stars, but Pastrnak still leads the National Hockey League in goals scored with seventeen goals on the season as of November 17th at 4pm EST. Pastrnak has three more goals than the next person on the goal-leading list, ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point, who has fourteen goals on the year.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

Jaroslav Halak is most likely getting the starting role at the time of writing this article and he will look to continue his hot start to the season. Even after a tough loss to Colorado, Halak has a 6-2-2 record with a 2.16 GAA and a .932 SV%.

Scoring has not been great for Arizona so far this season, entering Saturday’s game with the fourth-lowest goals-for-per-game in the entire league with an average of only 2.61 goals for. However, forward Clayton Keller has twelve points in eighteen contests this season, with seven goals. He leads the team in points, tied with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Forward Alex Galchenyuk has 3-5-8 totals in eleven games with his new team. The former Montreal Canadiens player has fit in nicely since being acquired by the Coyotes in a June trade.

Who’s Not

Darcy Kuemper is getting the start against Boston in the Saturday game, but he has not had a successful campaign early on. With a record of 4-4-1 in nine games, Kuemper has a 2.77 goals-against-average and a .917 save percentage. He will look to rebound with a win over the Bruins on home ice.

The depth scoring of the Bruins remains an issue. While David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk have added points on the second-line, the third-line and fourth-line have not had a great year. Danton Heinen is the only forward behind Krejci and DeBrusk with more than four points. Boston needs to find their depth scoring or even bring in another forward to help.

Like Boston, Arizona has not had scoring past Keller. Michael Grabner has ten points and Vinnie Hinostroza has nine, but the remainder of the forward core has not been too hot and like the B’s, need to find their groove if they want to move along in that Pacific division.

Bruins vs Coyotes Outlook

The Bruins announced earlier today that Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and John Moore will not be joining the roster for the game as they will be heading back to Boston for injuries that they suffered. Big blows to a team already riddled with big injuries – especially to their blueline core. D-men Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril will have to play another game with the Bruins after making their NHL debuts against the Stars.

The Bruins young defence will need to try their best to prevent the young Arizona Coyotes from gaining access in their zone. Whoever does end up starting for the Bruins will need to be solid in the net as the Bruins may need to rely on them because of the injury-filled defensive core that was already mentioned. The depth of the Bruins will need to try and fill the absence of leading point producer, Patrice Bergeron as well.

Bruins Fans, Don’t Forget About Anders Bjork

Bjork_Tom Szczerbowski:USA Today SportsPhoto Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / USA Today Sports

By: Crae Messer   |   Follow Me On Twitter @Crae_Messer

Opening the 2017-2018 season, there was no doubt surrounding the future of the Boston Bruins. The youth movement was officially on, and the B’s faithful fanbase was excited to see what the young guns could do donning the Spoked-B.

The list of newcomers with serious potential seemed to be endless. Most notably there was Charlie McAvoy. Not far behind in terms of hype was Jake DeBrusk. Danton Heinen landed a well-deserved spot in the lineup as well. All of whom delivered in their first full seasons in the big leagues.

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Among the other younger players generating excitement were Sean Kuraly and Matt Grzelcyk. Brandon Carlo was back. David Pastrnak, still young, was ready to establish himself. And while all these players got their chances to shine in the Bruins’ impressive 2017-2018 campaign, one rookie, one with arguably the most potential coming into the season behind Charlie McAvoy, was robbed of his shot.

Anders Bjork

What Happened?

Bjork was injured in just his 30th game of the season, a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks on January 30, after taking a cross check from Francois Beauchemin. It resulted in season-ending shoulder surgery.

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Before the injury, Bjork was off to a good start in his first NHL season, as was expected. Bovada, a sports gambling website, had Bjork listed at 7/1 odds to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. He was tied with teammate McAvoy, and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks for second-best odds. Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes had the best odds at 9/2.

Bjork potted his first career NHL goal in his fourth career game against Keller’s ‘Yotes. Of course, Jake DeBrusk assisted on the goal. Two games later, Bjork scored twice in a 6-3 win over Brock Boeser and the Canucks. After that, Bjork’s production dropped off a bit. He went 13 games without another goal. His next tally, oddly enough, came against the Coyotes on December 7. That was his last goal before his season-ending injury took place. Bjork finished his first NHL season with four goals and eight assists, with a plus/minus rating of plus-2.

Even when Bjork was healthy, his production was less than impressive, and certainly not Calder Trophy-caliber. It undoubtedly takes time to adjust to the NHL when coming from the college ranks. But Bjork was one of the best in college, as is evident by his being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in his junior season at Notre Dame.

And while all this seems to imply that Bjork is not worth the hype, I’m here to make the exact opposite argument.

Bjork Belongs Here

There has been so much commotion since the Bruins’ season came to an end a few weeks ago, as is always the case with any team. If your team is one of the 30 that were unlucky enough to be eliminated, the first thing that happens upon elimination is that fans and management alike begin looking at how to improve the squad for the next season.

The B’s are no different. There have been plenty of questions and discussions surrounding the black and gold. What happens to Anton Khudobin? Who do they re-sign? Who do they let walk? Should they actually sign Ilya Kovalchuk? And, of course, who could forget the age-old debacle of how to improve the defensive corps?

Lost in all this conversation, specifically in regards to the Bruins’ offense, is Anders Bjork. Upon scrolling through the ever-dependable Twitterverse, I see so many analysts forgetting about Bjork when pitching hypothetical Bruins lines for next season.

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There’s little doubt the Bruins will break up arguably the best line in hockey of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. On the second line, David Krejci is most certainly the center. It’s fair to think Jake DeBrusk has earned his spot on the wing, and from there, the question marks begin to appear.

A lot of those question marks will move the side once some offseason transactions are completed, and we have a better idea of what the roster will look like next season. But while Bjork’s shortened rookie campaign was a bit disappointing, there’s no reason to disregard the fifth-round draft pick from 2014.

Bjork’s stock has indeed risen since being drafted. He was selected 146th overall, four years ago. Since then, he found a groove at Notre Dame and established himself as a natural goal-scorer. In his junior and final season, Bjork scored 21 goals with 31 assists in 39 games, averaging 1.3 points per game. Had he entered the NHL draft after having his best years at Notre Dame, you can bet he would have been taken a few rounds earlier.

Boston is a demanding sports city, and there’s no doubt about that. They expect winning teams and players that are ready to contribute to said teams. Mix that with a Bruins squad that relied so heavily on young players, and you’ve got some inexperienced hockey players taking a lot of responsibility in their first seasons.

Many of the young Bruins did a fantastic job handling such a tough situation, especially considering how well the team did last year. Charlie McAvoy took on a role as a leader among the younger players. Jake DeBrusk brought emotion, grit, and skill – just what Bruins fans love to see. Meanwhile, Anders Bjork struggled to find his footing in the NHL and fell by the wayside.

That being said, expect something big out of Bjork this year.

The 21-year-old forward is a natural goal-scorer. He combines his lethal shooting ability with outstanding puck-moving skill and vision on the ice. Take a look back at the numbers previously mentioned from his junior season at Notre Dame. He helped the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the National Semifinals, both with his play and his leadership as an assistant captain. When he pulls the Bruins’ sweater over his pads this year, he’ll be much more prepared.

It won’t come easily, however. Considering Bjork is coming back from a serious shoulder injury, he’ll have to bulk up even more than most. It will be so crucial for Bjork to get stronger on his feet and prepare for a more physical game. Otherwise, one strange hit could result in more damage to the already injured shoulder.

Remember David Pastrnak after his rookie year? After a first year where he impressed with his skills, but left fans worried about his ability to handle the physical aspects of the game, he did what he had to – bulked up. His second year, he was noticeably stronger on his feet, and it made a difference in his game. Bjork will need to follow in Pastrnak’s footsteps.

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There’s a reason Bjork entered his rookie campaign with the second-best odds to win the Calder Trophy. His knack for finding the back of the net. His puck-moving abilities. Heck, his leadership. It’s a great combination to see in a player, but one we didn’t see last year.

Next season, I’m confident we’ll see it.