Shoulder trouble continues to derail the young career of Anders Bjork.
The Bruins said Friday the 22-year-old winger is expected to miss 5-6 months after having surgery on his left shoulder this week. Last year, surgery on the same joint knocked him out of action for a similar length of time. When he suits up for his third pro season next fall, he will have spent approximately a calendar year rehabbing from shoulder trouble.
“Mentally, it’s a setback at that age,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “Now you get a couple injuries, you might start thinking, ‘Geez, is this meant to be?’ Hopefully he gets past that part of it.”
Bjork, who began the year with the varsity before an assignment to AHL Providence, has not played since Dec. 30. His rookie season last year was waylaid by a Jan. 30 hit by Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin. His recovery from February surgery extended into the preseason.
He was sent down Nov. 29 after producing one goal and two assists in 20 games. He had a 1-9–10 line in 13 AHL contests.
“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t heal properly,” Cassidy said. “And then, come back to training camp next year and compete for a spot.
“He’s going to be a more mature player coming in here next year. Hopefully stronger. We’ve seen the difference in Peter Cehlarik in a short period of time, and maybe Anders, with a couple years pro under his belt, even though he missed time, will be better off for it.”
The first Rangers-Bruins meeting of the season Saturday night means a few familiar faces are in town, primarily Adam McQuaid. The tough guy spent nine seasons in a Bruins uniform, lifted the Stanley Cup in 2011, and was beloved by his teammates.
“You could tell how vital he was to this room,” said fellow defenseman Charlie McAvoy, recalling the day McQuaid was traded to the Rangers (Sept. 11, for Steven Kampfer, a fourth-round pick, and a conditional seventh-rounder).
McQuaid was supposed to be on the Bruins’ charter plane to China. McAvoy remembered “how sad it was around here.”
In Manhattan, McQuaid is playing 15 minutes a night, has blocked 51 shots in 23 games — by far the team’s highest rate — and is third on the Rangers in shorthanded time on ice. Same old “Quaider.”
Saturday also marks the Boston return of David Quinn. The first-year Rangers coach, of Cranston, R.I., succeeded Jack Parker at Boston University in 2013.
“Two of the best years of growth and development that I had,” said McAvoy, one of three future Bruins whom Quinn tutored in his five seasons (Matt Grzelcyk, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson). “Taught me how to be a defenseman when all I wanted to do was run around, be behind the goal line in the offensive zone.
“I’m thankful we have such a good relationship like we do. Hopefully I’ll be thankful for 2 points tomorrow after we play against those guys.”
Dorchester’s Kevin Hayes, a UFA-to-be who has been out since Jan. 2 with an upper-body injury, will miss Saturday’s game. Offensively gifted blue liner Neal Pionk (lower body) and sixth defenseman Fredrik Claesson (shoulder) are also out for the Rangers, who have won two in a row after dropping six of seven games.
Keeping it tidy
Depth is a major reason the Bruins, despite significant injuries, will head to the All-Star break in a playoff spot (27-16-5, fifth in the East as of Friday). The other is goaltending.
Tuukka Rask, who will start Saturday, is the No. 1 goalie, though he and Jaroslav Halak entered Friday with nearly identical numbers.
They were tied in starts (24) and games (25) and had the same save percentage (.920), ranking ninth in the league. Their records and goals-against averages were remarkably similar: Rask, 14-8-3 and 2.42; Halak, 13-8-2 and 2.46. Halak had three shutouts to Rask’s one.
“Each night, we have a goaltender who gives us a chance to win — that helps,” said Cassidy, whose team improved to 7-1-1 on the second night of back-to-backs with a 5-2 win Thursday against the Blues.
“I guess it’s overused, but next man up, we’ve certainly bought into that last year, and this year, what’s acceptable and what’s not.”
A win for Rask would be the 253d of his career, the most in Bruins history. On Thursday he tied Tiny Thompson atop the list.
Cassidy said Grzelcyk (scratched against St. Louis) could be back in the lineup Saturday. Grzelcyk sat for John Moore, the odd man out for three games. Both have taken Boston’s surplus of healthy defensemen in stride, similar to forwards Noel Acciari and David Backes. “Some guys will not be too amenable to being the odd man out,” Cassidy said. “If they carry that into the locker room, with their body language and attitude, you’ve got a problem. That’s where things start. But we’re fortunate. I’m sure they go home and, ‘Damn Butch,’ or whatever. I would respect that. That’s normal human nature.” . . . Only two clubs (New Jersey and Ottawa) have worse road records than the Rangers’ 7-14-2 mark . . . Sixty-one years ago Friday, Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree debuted for the Bruins.
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports.