By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After scoring three goals and eight points through seven games with Providence, Bruins winger Anders Bjork is where he should've been from the start of the 2019-20 season, and that's with the Big B's for tonight's game against the Maple Leafs.
Perhaps Boston's best skater not named Charlie Coyle in the preseason, Bjork looked at his most NHL-ready in any of his prior training camps with the organization during the 2019 preseason, and was a dominant force in all roles and with all linemates. There was consistency in his game, and the move to left wing did wonders for Bjork's three-zone game.
"He was bringing lots of energy, he was on top of pucks, he was attacking the net," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Bjork's preseason. "Did a lot of things well. Seemed stronger, sustained shifts better from the first period to the third period."
Bjork's opportunity comes with the Bruins going through their annual early-season injury bug, with David Krejci (upper-body) set to miss his third straight game, Joakim Nordstrom (upper-body) out for the second straight contest, and Karson Kuhlman (lower-body) all on the shelf for Cassidy's squad. Krejci and Nordstrom both missed last Saturday's head-to-head with the Leafs, while Kuhlman suffered an injury on a blocked shot in the first period of Saturday's overtime loss.
He'll skate on the "fourth" line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.
#NHLBruins coach Bruce Cassidy on Anders Bjork: "When he left he was bringing lots of energy, he was on top of pucks, he was attacking the net. Did a lot of things well. Seems stronger." pic.twitter.com/kjiXhhNhH4
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 22, 2019
In net, the Bruins will give the start to Tuukka Rask.
This will be Rask's 500th start in a Boston uniform, and he's the first Bruins netminder to reach that milestone.
"It's a big milestone," the 32-year-old Rask offered when speaking with reporters after Monday's practice. "I think you play 500 games as a goalie, it's going to take some years. Just goes to show how old I am."
Rask, originally a draft pick of the Maple Leafs, has a 17-7-2 record and .925 save percentage 27 career starts against Toronto.
The Leafs defeated Boston by a 4-3 overtime final this past Saturday, but come into play on the second leg of a back-to-back that began with a Monday overtime loss to the Blue Jackets.
Michael Hutchinson is expected to get the start in the Toronto crease.
Here are the complete lines and pairings for the Bruins...
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie
Danton Heinen - Par Lindholm - David Backes
Anders Bjork - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton