Boston Bruins

Haggerty: Good start for Anders Bjork as he looks to nail down Bruins' job

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Haggerty: Good start for Anders Bjork as he looks to nail down Bruins' job

With the hopes pretty high for 21-year-old Anders Bjork heading into NHL training camp at the end of this week, he obliged with a strong start at rookie camp in Buffalo last weekend. Bjork scored three goals while playing in two of the three rookie tournament games held in Buffalo against his Devils, Sabres and Penguins peers, and looked every bit the speedy, skilled young winger Boston is hoping to see over the next month.

That’s after Bjork looked pretty comfortable skating with the NHL big boys at captain’s practice where he’d connected with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on a few scoring plays, and looked like a confident young kid fresh off Hobey Baker consideration at Notre Dame. 

That’s exceedingly good news for the Black and Gold, who need at least one and possibly two young wingers to step up and win NHL jobs in training camp just as Brandon Carlo did on the back end last season.

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“It’s been well-documented that we’re hoping some of those [young] guys are going to push for jobs, so I guess we’ll see starting this weekend,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who got a good first look at the prospects during his time in Buffalo last weekend. “I think this rookie camp is good for guys like Bjork, who maybe didn’t get to play in those games [in the AHL last spring] to see where our guys are at and build some chemistry. We’ll use a lot of different lines.

“We know that Bergeron and Marchy are going to play together. I’ll let the cat out of the bag right now on that one. They’re probably going to play together. With Pastrnak’s situation we don’t who is going to go in with Krejci, so there’s going to be a developing chemistry situation there. But they still have to do it against NHL competition [in main training camp].”

The lefty-shooting Bjork said he’s comfortable at either wing after playing mostly right wing for the Fighting Irish, and finishing with 21 goals and 52 points in 39 games as a junior at Notre Dame last season. That means he’s likely to be used for some reps as the young legs on the right side with Bergeron and Marchand at camp, and for others he’ll get a look at left wing alongside David Krejci in another top-6 audition.

Who knows? 

Perhaps Bjork will even get a look at right wing with Krejci if fellow 21-year-old David Pastrnak is slow getting into B’s training camp given his contract situation. Whatever the case, Bjork was still in a little bit of “pinch me” mode earlier this month when he was skating with All-Stars and Olympians like No. 37 and No. 63.

“It’s obviously exciting, but my focus is on doing the best that I can and trying to win the game no matter whether it’s rookie camp, preseason or whatever,” said Bjork. “I’m going to do all I can to help the team win. It’s definitely been eye-opening. Those guys [Marchand and Bergeron] are some of the best players in the world for a reason. You can see it. They don’t really make mistakes.

“It’s crazy to watch and really exciting and inspiring at the same time. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to skate with those guys. It feels like a dream knowing those are the kinds of guys I watched growing up. It’s exciting that the potential is there [to play with them] but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of focus.”

Will Bjork be ready right off the bat for Boston after similar NCAA standouts like Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes were over the last few years after leaving college? It remains to be seen once the real NHL auditions begin during the preseason and the speed and physicality both get bumped up as the pros are fighting for jobs. But Bjork is off to a good start after a productive rookie camp weekend in Buffalo where he showed the speed and goal-scoring abilities that will need to be most present for him to win an NHL gig. 

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Krug, Forbacka Karlsson suffer upper body injuries vs. Red Wings

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Krug, Forbacka Karlsson suffer upper body injuries vs. Red Wings

BOSTON – The Bruins ended Tuesday night’s preseason home date with another feel-good victory over the Red Wings, but it may have come at a cost.

Both Torey Krug and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were injured in the second period of the B’s 4-2 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden, and didn’t return to the game. Krug was hit in the face with a puck in the defensive zone during the second period, and quickly exited the ice with Bruins trainer Don DelNegro after the impact of the puck hitting his face initially took his feet out from under him.  

“[Krug] clearly didn’t finish the game, and took a shot up in the facial area,” said Bruce Cassidy of Krug, who had a couple of shots on net in 9:10 of ice time while largely playing with Charlie McAvoy in an offensive-minded pairing. “We’ll probably have an update tomorrow.”

Forbacka Karlsson took a hard tumble into the end boards in the game’s middle period, and never returned after serving up the primary assist on Danton Heinen’s goal earlier in that very same period. JFK tried to return to Tuesday night’s win over the Red Wings, according to Cassidy, but was kept out of the game with an upper body injury that has his status as questionable moving forward.

“He went into the boards late in the second. He’s day-to-day, upper body. I think wanted to – he did come back and try [to return to the game],” said Cassidy of JFK, who put up an assist and a plus-1 rating in 8:37 of ice time before leaving the game. “I don’t think it’s serious, but I can’t speculate. We’ll get another update tomorrow. It didn’t look good, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looked. We’ll know more [about JFK] tomorrow.”

It certainly sounds like both Krug and JFK could miss a day or two of practice moving forward after the injury wear-and-tear of preseason action, but the hope is that the Black and Gold won’t be missing a couple of key performers for anything more than that.  

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Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

BOSTON -- The good, the bad, and the ugly from the Bruins' 4-2 exhibition win over the Red Wings Monday night at TD Garden:

GOLD STAR: Austin Czarnik once again showed that he can really put on a show during training camp after winning an NHL job last season based on his strong preseason. Czarnik finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating in 15:15 of ice time, created a penalty shot situation solely based on his skating speed and perfectly executed a 3-on-1 late in the third period while feeding a one-timer dish to Teddy Purcell for the insurance marker. Czarnik tied David Pastrnak with a team-high four shots on net for the night, and won 8-of-15 draws for the Bruins while manning his natural center position. Czarnik showed once again that he can play effectively when he’s motoring at a high pace and playing aggressive hockey, a couple of things he didn’t always do with the Bruins once the routine of the NHL regular season settled in last year.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo didn’t have a particularly terrible night, but he did end up as the only Bruins player with a negative plus/minus. Carlo was on the ice for both goals scored by Detroit, and otherwise didn’t really factor into the game while clocking in a solid 17:48 of ice time. His only other major contribution was an interference call halfway through the first period that put the Wings on the power play. Carlo was playing without his usual partner, Zdeno Chara, of course, and one of the remaining questions about the 21-year-old D-man is exactly how good he can be as a shutdown defenseman when he doesn’t have the big captain on his left side. Clearly, it was a good night overall for the B’s, but Carlo was far from his best in his preseason debut.

TURNING POINT: Nobody would have blamed the Bruins if they were a little frustrated after outshooting the Red Wings by a 13-8 margin, and not seeing any points up on the board. Instead of getting frustrated they kept working and finally busted through with a pair of goals within 90 seconds of each other in the second frame. Ryan Fitzgerald finished off the first chance off a nice dish from Jakub Zboril, and Danton Heinen followed by banging home a backdoor dish from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson across the ice. The two goals from two of Boston’s young forward group pushed the B’s out to a lead that they would never relinquish against Detroit.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jakub Zboril probably hasn’t received some of the fanfare of the other first-round picks in Bruins camp, but the skilled, improving D-man played an excellent first preseason game for the Black and Gold. It was Zboril’s one-man rush from his defense position that helped set up his creative dish to a wide-open Ryan Fitzgerald for Boston’s first goal, and he followed that up with 19:12 of mostly solid ice time. Zboril finished with the assist and a plus-2 rating along with a shot on net and a registered hit while also playing a special teams role on both the power play and the penalty kill. Zboril is still working on the polish to his game that will eventually make him an effective pro, but he was noticeable in a good way in his first preseason action of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the team-leading number of shot attempts for David Pastrnak in his first action of the preseason while skating with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Who is hard on the puck? Who is winning pucks? Who can keep their pace up? I think [the young forwards] are all capable of making plays, the young skilled guys. You can probably list seven or eight that have talent and could make NHL plays.” – Bruce Cassidy, on what he’s looking for out of B’s forward prospects that want to win NHL jobs.