Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Bjork trying to make his shot with Bruins count

Matt Kalman
October 15, 2018 - 4:13 pm

After his rookie season, Bruins forward Anders Bjork wanted to improve his offensive game, and that included doing more than just working on his shot in the offseason.

It also meant changing his mentality.

It was that shift in attitude that helped the 22-year-old score his first goal of the season in the Bruins’ 8-2 win against Detroit on Saturday, and that shift could also help Bjork become a threat for the Bruins all season.

Bjork scored on a 2-on-1 with David Backes by getting Red Wings defenseman Joe Hicketts to commit to defending the pass and then beating goaltender Jonathan Bernier with a wrist shot from just below the right hash marks.

“I think that’s something that I’ve sort of worked on changing is instead of coming down, not necessarily thinking shot exactly, but like attack first I guess. Coaches always tell me to have an attack-first mentality,” Bjork said after practice on Monday at Warrior Ice Arena. “That’s what I was trying to do as soon as I got that rush, I was thinking ‘go to the net, go to the net.’ Just trying to get in the middle, in good position, and I think once you do that, and you have to make the D-man make the play, that’s when either you have the open shot or the guy’s wide open.”

Two other things contributed to Bjork getting on the score sheet. First, Bruins backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak tipped off Bjork that with smaller goalie equipment this year, the area under the netminder’s arm can be a prime way to get the puck through to the back of the net. Although Bjork wouldn’t take credit for completely aiming for that spot, he had an idea of what he wanted to do and shot the puck as hard as he could before it sailed under Bernier’s right arm pit and in.

Second, Bjork’s shot is harder and quicker. He dedicated himself to improving his shot after measuring it against the NHL’s best last season. A dislocated shoulder shortened Bjork’s season to 34 games, but as soon as he was healed enough he got to working with Bruins skills coach Kim Brandvold on ways to make his shot better. He also got some tips from fellow Notre Dame alum Anders Lee of the New York Islanders

“He scored a lot of goals last year on just good, smart shots with quick releases. Especially a player like that, you learn things, he looks at the goalie, reads stuff off that. So you learn certain stuff and try to apply it,” said Bjork, who had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) as a rookie.

Bjork’s search for improvements to his shot has led him to study not just Lee’s shot but other Bruins players’ shots. He admires how quickly Danton Heinen gets his wrist shot off and how Jake DeBrusk pulls the puck in before snapping off a wicked wrist shot.

Bjork hasn’t been shy about his quest for improvement and diversity, and Heinen said Bjork’s “mentioned it once or twice.” But Bjork would be glad to know Heinen has noticed that the left-handed wing’s shot is “definitely harder.”

So far Bjork is the only one of the Bruins’ young wings that hasn’t gotten a chance to audition for the second-line right-wing job. If he keeps expanding his shooting repertoire and physically improving his shot, he may be in for a promotion or he could be the answer to the Bruins’ third-line blues.

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