If the Boston Bruins are going to orchestrate another deep playoff run in 2020, there stands a good chance that the usual suspects like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask will play a major role in said success. But if this Original Six franchise plans on getting past clubs like Tampa Bay and punching their ticket back to the Stanley Cup Final within the next few seasons, it’s pretty evident that the next wave of talent on this roster is going to establish themselves as the next pillars of this franchise — and proving such with their on-ice contributions.
“That core group that’s here now grew into what they are because of their efforts and the culture created. We want that continuation to start at some point for the second layer, I thought it did last year,” Bruce Cassidy said. “Jake (DeBrusk) had a really good playoff his first year against Toronto, it’s a reason why we advanced, (Sean) Kuraly scored some big goals and now (Charlie) McAvoy, so you’re leaning on those guys to pull harder on the rope is what we’re going after. It’s as simple as that. We have a lot of trust and faith and our core guys are still carrying us, but it’s a full 20 guys and you need those other guys to step up sometimes.”
Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at a couple of younger players on this B’s roster that can (and likely have to) step up in a major way in 2020 — especially if Boston wants to keep its Cup-contention window open a little longer.
After projecting what could be Boston's top defensive pairing of the future on Monday, let's take a look at a young forward that could find himself yanked all over the lineup in 2020:
You can't say that Anders Bjork didn't do everything he could to extend the Bruins' season back on August 31st.
With Boston teetering on the brink of elimination in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal, Bjork — slotted next to Charlie Coyle's left on the B's third line — picked an awfully good time to put forth his best performance in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. His center might have led to the offensive charge with 10 shots on goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy, but Bjork and fellow linemate Jack Studnicka proved to the perfect offensive complement in what was a buzzsaw of a bottom-six unit in that decisive contest.
In his 18:30 of 5v5 ice time, Bjork attempted seven shots on goal — four of which made it to Vasilevskiy — while that revamped third line finished with an absurd 70% shot share. And yet, while Boston managed to hold a 17-7 edge in shots on goal and 13-6 advantage in scoring chances when the Coyle line was deployed in Game 5, none of those shots managed to slip past the Bolts' netminder and light the lamp — with Tampa eventually punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference Final by way of a Victor Hedman game-winner in double overtime.
Granted, a showing like that for both Bjork and Studnicka is awfully encouraging and gives both wingers a solid foundation to build off of going into the 2020-21 season.
But for Bjork, even with a three-year extension inked back in July, a set role in this B's lineup is still far from a given — at least not until the 24-year-old winger showcases a bit more finish in the offensive zone.