BOSTON — This time a year ago, Anders Bjork was the next big thing. After leaving Notre Dame a year early, the speedy winger was given a prime spot in the Bruins’ lineup – the right wing on the Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line. And it looked like his game would take off along with those of fellow rookies Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk.

Alas, it’s never that easy.

Now, after a concussion, major shoulder surgery and various other first-year hard knocks – he was sent to Providence of the AHL before suffering the shoulder injury that ended his season on Jan. 30 – Bjork is starting anew. He took his first step in Thursday night’s 4-0 win in Buffalo, skating on an all-sophomore line with left winger Danton Heinen and center Sean Kuraly.

His stat line was modest – 11:34 of ice time, no shots, one hit – but Coach Bruce Cassidy saw some growth in his game.

“I thought he was on pucks,” said Cassidy. “What he’s done better is chip-and-chase on one-on-one situations when the ice is closing off on him instead of trying to beat everybody with a move.”

Bjork was held out of preseason games until the final one. Looking like he was surely headed to Providence, his performance in that one game was good enough to keep him on the roster. He was the odd man out in Wednesday’s debacle in Washington.

Considering the Buffalo game was his first real one in eight months, it wasn’t bad.

“I felt good,” said Bjork. “I think the energy was up in the locker room and I think that helped me sort of ease into this one. I think everyone wanted to bounce back positively after (the 7-0 loss in Washington), and I think I fed off that energy.”

Bjork impressed many in the organization with the offseason he had, and against Buffalo he looked physically ready to stand up to the rigors of the NHL.

“It felt better,” said Bjork. “I felt stronger, which is nice. I think I noticed some areas where I needed to improve and that was positive. But it was nice to get the win, and I think as a team we learned a lot, and personally, I did as well.”

Captain Zdeno Chara sees potential in Bjork.

“For (Bjork), it’s been a long time since he played a game. He missed a big (maturing process) of last year and he worked really hard,” said Chara. “I’m sure his game is not quite there where it needs to be. I don’t think any of ours is there where it needs to be. But for his ability to skate and make plays, I think he did pretty well.”

The Bruins decluttered their blue line by assigning rookie Urho Vaakanainen, who stood out in training camp, to Providence.


DEVILS 5, OILERS 2: Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac scored two goals each to lead New Jersey past Edmonton the teams’ season opener at Gothenburg, Sweden, as part of the NHL Global Series.

CANADIENS 5, PENGUINS 1: Paul Byron scored two goals and added an assist, leading Montreal at Pittsburgh.

LIGHTNING 2, PANTHERS 1: J.T Miller and Nikita Kucherov scored in the shootout and Tampa Bay won at home in the season opener for both teams.

Florida goalie Roberto Luongo departed midway through the second period with a lower-body injury after teammate Frank Vatrano landed on his extended right leg.

SABRES 3, RANGERS 1: Conor Sheary scored two goals and Carter Hutton made 43 saves as Buffalo won at home.

PREDATORS 4, ISLANDERS 3: Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and Nashville held off the Islanders, spoiling New York’s home opener.

STARS 5, JETS 1: Jamie Benn had two power-play goals, Tyler Seguin added another and also had a goal at even strength, and Dallas won at home.

SENATORS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 3: Thomas Chabot had two goals and an assist, Craig Anderson made 34 saves, and Ottawa won at Toronto.

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