Over the last few weeks, the Bruins tried to convince Anders Bjork, Notre Dame’s high-scoring forward, not to return to South Bend for his senior year and instead sign an entry-level contact with the Black and Gold.
It’s inevitable Bjork turns pro, but it won’t be any time soon — certainly not in time for the 20-year-old to present the Bruins a roster option in this NHL postseason.
Bjork, who has collected 109 points in 115 games in three seasons with Notre Dame, agreed Monday to join Team USA for the IIHF World Championship. The tourney will be held in Paris and Cologne, Germany, from May 5-21.
His decision is in keeping with recent rumors that Bjork also would like to play for the Yanks in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Wisconsin-born Bjork was chosen 146th overall by the Bruins in the 2014 draft, just prior to joining Notre Dame. Bjork is among 10 forwards currently on the USA roster for the Worlds. As NHL teams are eliminated in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Yanks will add to the roster, which also currently includes five defensemen and three goalies.
Ex-BC standout Noah Hanifin, who left the Heights after his freshman year to join the Hurricanes, is also on the USA roster, along with BU forwards Jordan Greenway and Clayton Keller (recently signed by Phoenix).
Dan Brickley, nephew of ex-Bruin Andy Brickley and a sophomore at Minnesota-Mankato, will be part of the USA backline. Brickley, 6 feet 3 inches and 205 pounds, went undrafted as an 18-year-old and should be a highly sought free agent when he wraps up his college days.
Bjork, though drafted by the Bruins, could become an unrestricted free agent in August 2018,if he were to play four fulls seasons in college. Jim Vesey, drafted by the Predators, played four seasons at Harvard and then signed as a free agent with the Rangers this past August.
If the Bruins don’t make it out of Round 1, Team USA will seek to add Charlie McAvoy to its roster. McAvoy was part of the Yanks’ gold-medal-winning effort at the most recent World Junior tournament.
Still searching for answers for their injured lineup, the Bruins had both center David Krejci and defenseman Colin Miller on the ice for the traditional day-of-game skate. Come game time, only Krejci made it in to the lineup.
Krejci’s play grew stronger over the course of his 14:38. He landed one shot on net, finished minus-1, and won four of his nine faceoffs.
“The first period was kind of tough,” he said. “But I felt better, made some plays it he second and third.”
As for the injury-riddled blue line, “It looks a bit like a puzzle that we’re trying to piece together,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
Due to the shortage among the defensive corps, the Bruins called up Tommy Cross and Matt Grzelcyk from AHL Providence on an emergency basis. Cross filled in for Miller.
Cross, the former BC standout, had played three games with the Boston varsity. Grzelcyk, the former BU star, has played two games with Boston.
Cross began the night on a third pairing with John-Michael Liles. Cross saw 13:08 of ice time and assisted on David Backes’s second-period goal.
“You know what you’ll get with Tommy, he’s a hard-nosed guy,” said Cassidy, who coached Cross for a number of years in Providence. “He moves the puck. This year’s offensive numbers [12-23—35 in 74 games], he had career highs down there, so he’s playing a little bit more on the power play. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of games, we’ve seen guys go in for us recently that have done well.”
McAvoy made his NHL debut in Game 1 and ranked second to Zdeno Chara in ice time over two games. Joe Morrow, out of the lineup for 10 weeks, plugged back into the backline for Game 2 and also played well.
“So [Cross] wouldn’t be the first guy we’ve asked to go in, play significant minutes, and get the job done,” noted Cassidy.
Grzelcyk, made his varsity debut this season when Claude Julien was the coach, the backline then riddled with injury.
Cross, a 2007 draft pick, has often looked good in September training camp during his Black-and-Gold tenure, but repeatedly has fallen short of making the cut.
Krejci began the night between Drew Stafford and Backes.
Krejci remained vague about the nature or source of the injury (which the club says is to his upper body) when meeting with the media following the morning skate.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I mean, the point is to try to come back as soon as possible, and as close to 100 percent as I can be. Today was a good step forward. I feel like I am really close.”
The Bruins lost four defensemen — Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Adam McQuaid — in their previous four games. It appears Krug will be lost for at least the duration of the series. Carlo and McQuaid remain on day-to-day status, though neither of them skated Monday morning.
NBC’s Pierre McGuire on the Riley Nash-Bobby Ryan encounter: “That’s got to be matching minors. Honestly — if you’re going to set the standard, you’ve got to call it the right way. I have no skin in this game at all. But if you’re going to set a standard, you’ve got to call it both ways. That’s a hit to the head [by Ryan]. That’s got to be called. If you’re going to call the next one, then call it. That is not well done at all. That’s a big break for Ottawa.”
The Bruins were held to only 10 shots in the first two periods, their low for the season, after twice being limited to only 13 shots. Patrice Bergeron landed four shots, but the likes of Backes, Stafford, and Brad Marchand scraped together only two shots among them. Tuukka Rask made 28 stops, including some exceptional stops in the first two periods when the Senators outshot the Bruins, 21-10. . . Erik Karlsson, who made a brilliant play for the tying (3-3) goal in Game 2, assisted on Ottawa’s first and final goals. He again led everyone in ice time (30:15) and landed five shots on net, second only to Mike Hoffman (8) . . . The Senators also enjoyed the edge (55 percent) at the faceoff dot. Bergeron won only 13 of 29 drops (45 percent), an off night for Patrice the Thief. Ottawa’s Derick Brassard won 18 of 24 (75 percent).
. . . The Bruins are scheduled for a late-morning practice Tuesday at their Warrior workout facility in Brighton . . . Malcolm Subban, called up from AHL Providence prior to Game 2, was on the ice for the morning skate, along with fellow goalies Rask and Anton Khudobin. According to Cassidy, Khudobin, hindered by a virus at the end of the regular season, has been dealing with lingering issues related to his recent illness. Khudobin dressed again as Rask’s backup Monday . . . The 4-3 loss in Game 2 was Boston’s first this season when leading after two periods. They were 13-0-0 in such situations under Cassidy and 21-0-2 under prior coach Julien prior to his dismissal at the start of February.