Since his departure from Notre Dame to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time NHLer with the Boston Bruins, Anders Bjork has done plenty of learning. Bjork’s departure from a purely offensive force in the NCAA to adopting the ‘all-around forward’ label in the NHL has been a well-documented affair. Under head coach, Bruce Cassidy learning how to adapt to his new role has been a course often taught the hard way.
This past January, after appearing in 28 games and managing 12 points for Boston Bjork was, once again, sent down to Providence. Although he would later rejoin his Bruin teammates a rocky month of February put him right back under his head coach’s microscope. Following his team’s loss to a very physical Calgary Flames team Bruce Cassidy offered his honest assessment of the 24-year-olds game “Like if you want to play in April and May, this is what you’re going to see every night for hopefully two months. You’re going to have to get used to it, you’re going to have to start playing…So there are things, you’ve just got to learn to manage the puck better in certain games like this.”
During Game 3’s victory against the Hurricanes, while flanking Bergeron and Marchand, Bjork managed to find himself on the score sheet by taking three minor penalties. Surely providing additional fodder for Cassidy with the media. Yet, despite the constructive criticism of months prior, Bjork has again been gifted the opportunity to play valuable minutes on Boston’s top line, albeit via the unfortunate loss of Rocket Richard Trophy winner David Pastrnak to injury.
Responsibility in his own zone may be the lone cog missing in his game, what cannot be denied is his offensive upside. His lightning-quick release coupled with an innate ability to get his feet moving at blazing speed provides him with the intangibles to become a regular on this Bruins team for years to come.
In spite of Pastrnak’s absence, the Boston Bruins have presented themselves with an opportunity to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in their series against Carolina tonight. In order to do so, they will need more from the likes of DeBrusk and Bjork with the former making a noticeable impact in games 1 and 2, Bjork, on the other hand, is yet to.
Bruce Cassidy has not made life in the NHL comfortable for Anders Bjork, almost strategically so. Offensively the upside is more than obvious, but to earn big minutes for the Bruins, you need to play at a high level in all three zones. In the face of major adversity, Bjork has seemingly battled through each obstacle, however, playoff hockey is a test that will rival even that of the academia at Notre Dame and its time to see more of what he has learned.