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Bjork recalled as injuries mount; Rask gets set for 500th career game

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - As training camp came to an end and Anders Bjork was optioned to Providence, the message from the Bruins' brass was far from negative. Following a second consecutive season that ended in shoulder surgery, Bjork had impressed throughout the preseason as he made his return to competitive action.

"When he left, he was bringing lots of energy, he was on top of pucks, he was attacking the net," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Did a lot of things well. Seemed stronger, sustained his shifts better from the first period to the third period."

But Cassidy and general manager Don Sweeney were hesitant to rush the 23-year-olde winger back to the NHL. Their preference was that Bjork begin the year in Providence to regain his confidence, particularly in his scoring touch.

In seven games with the P-Bruins, the Notre Dame product did just that, notching three goals and eight points to pace Providence. And now, Bjork is set for another opportunity with the big club.

As injuries begin to mount up front, the Wisconsin native will make his 2019-20 Bruins debut on Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden after being recalled from Providence on an emergency basis.

"Really exciting, grateful for this opportunity and want to make the most of it," said Bjork. "Working hard trying to improve my game, trying to be a complete player, 200-foot game and obviously trying to work on my offensive game as well and my scoring."

Video: Bjork Speaks to Media After Call Up from Providence

The Bruins will be without David Krejci (upper body), Joakim Nordstrom (upper body), and Karson Kuhlman (lower body) against the Leafs, which has opened up a spot for Bjork to slide into the lineup to play alongside Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.

"I put him on that line because I think he has certainly some of what Nordy brings on that line, which is that they're effective because they're hard to play against," said Cassidy. "Some of them are tenacious, some of them are on pucks, some of them are a little bit of both. I think his defensive game has improved so we'll see if he's prepared for that. That was the thinking there.

"And he's got two very responsible players. He can add a little offense to that group, there's not a lot of pressure for him to go out and necessarily score. We'll see how he plays up here and decide what the best fit is."

Bjork enters the night with 50 games of NHL experience under his belt, during which he has produced 5 goals and 10 assists. This time around, however, Bjork believes that he is far more prepared to deal with the rigors of being an everyday player at the game's highest level.

"I feel a lot more confident," said Bjork. "I have some experience and know what to expect. Definitely have a lot more confidence and know how things work, so excited to keep improving."

While he was disappointed to not start the year in Boston, the 2014 fifth-round pick was accepting of the idea to build up his game in Providence, which he embraced over the first few weeks of the regular season.

"I think coming off injury it was helpful to get some confidence and play a little more at the start of the year," said Bjork. "Just been trying to improve my game down there and that's kind of what my mindset is this year is just improve as much as I can."

Video: Tuukka's 500th Game, Bjork Called Up, & Leafs Rematch

Piling Up

Krejci, who will miss his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury, was placed on injured reserve to make room for Bjork's recall. According to Cassidy, however, Krejci's status has not changed, meaning the center remains day-to-day.

"I don't know that anything happened, it was probably a tough injury to diagnose right out of the gate, how long it would be," said Cassidy. "He went and saw the doctor, the doctor thought he would benefit from more time off. How long that is, I'm the wrong guy to ask right now.

"He's not playing tonight. We've got four days between games, hopefully he gets back on the ice. But until he's back on the ice skating with the team, he's out."

Kuhlman did not practice and will need to undergo further evaluation after taking a Jake DeBrusk shot off the foot on Saturday night in Toronto.

"They're looking at some X-rays on him," said Cassidy. "They ruled him out for tonight, didn't skate yesterday. Until they get a definitive look at those then he's out. That's fine, we've got three or four days, so not that tough a decision to give him a night off and make sure they get it right with whatever their diagnosis is."

Nordstrom, meanwhile, was back on the ice for pregame skate, wearing a white practice jersey, but will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury.

Video: Cassidy addresses media after Krejci goes on IR

Tuukka 500

Tuukka Rask is expected to get the start between the pipes for the Bruins, which will make him the 72nd goaltender in NHL history to play 500 games. Rask is the first goalie in Bruins history to reach that mark and the 10th active netminder to do so.

"They say it's like 1,000 games for players," said the 32-year-old Rask, who last year became Boston's all-time winningest goalie. "It's a big milestone. I think you play 500 games as a goalie, you have to - it's going to take some years. Just goes to show how old I am, that's about it."

Video: Rask speaks with media about upcoming 500th game

Tuesday's Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie

Danton Heinen - Par Lindholm - David Backes

Anders Bjork - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner

 

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton

 

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

 

Scratches: Steven Kampfer, David Krejci (upper body), Karson Kuhlman (lower body), Joakim Nordstrom (upper body)

Video: Pastrnak Addresses Media Before Rematch vs. Leafs

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