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Five Thoughts: Bruins Bjork Stealing Roster Spot

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The Boston Bruins (1-1-0) claimed their first preseason victory Thursday in Philadelphia when they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. The Bruins got key contributions from several players trying to shove their way onto the NHL roster. Chief among those prospectives making noise was Anders Bjork, who was arguably the Bruins best player for chunks of the night. He was far from the only one who shined in this victory.

Here are five thoughts from the Bruins convincing victory over the Flyers.

1. Bjork Impresses

When Anders Bjork was on the ice, the Bruins were going in the right direction. The Bruins attempted 31 shots with the forward on the ice while surrendering just 8 attempts. He looked his best playing on a line with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle. That line put a clamp on Philadelphia, going 14-3 in shot attempts in the first two periods of play. They were the best line for the Bruins in this game.

Bjork making the roster would really answer some questions for the Bruins. The club badly needs a winger or two to step up, and Bjork has the skills to be a strong complementary scorer. His effort tonight should get him extra looks on a potential third line with Coyle. He played both left and right wing in this game and looked comfortable.

This was a great showing for Bjork, who now has shown chemistry with a key roster forward in Coyle.

2. Don’t Sleep On Vaakanainen

Urho Vaakanainen isn’t getting much play from fans and media when it comes to making the roster. He’s had a strong training camp and was arguably the Bruins best defender on Thursday night. He looked awfully comfortable dealing with the likes of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek, and James Van Riemsdyk. With John Moore and Kevan Miller likely to miss the start of the season, the door is open for Vaakanainen to make the roster.

His two-way ability and draft pedigree make him a player of interest. If he keeps it up in the final week of the preseason, he’ll have a shot to make the big club. Consider the first test, performing against an NHL lineup, passed.

3. No Rust On Halak

What a showing from Jaroslav Halak. Expected to again serve as the Bruins’ 1B goalie in 2019-20, Halak got the nod in Philadelphia. He looked like he was in mid-season form. Halak stopped 16 of 17 shots sent his way before giving way for Maxime Legace after two periods of play. He was perfect on the penalty kill, stopping all four shots he faced. He racked up another 12 saves at even strength, getting beaten just once on the night.

His remarkable save on Morgan Frost was the highlight of the night. With the Flyers pushing on the powerplay, Halak somehow robbed the young forward. After stopping a shot from Ivan Provorov, Halak left a rebound in the crease. Frost got there, but Halak was there half a second earlier.

Halak looks ready for the season.

4. Studnicka Struggles

Not the night Jack Studnicka was looking for. While Bjork shined and Heinen scored, Studnicka looked lost. He appeared overwhelmed against a largely NHL lineup for the Flyers. The worst part for Studnicka? He got an honest look with Jake DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman and couldn’t get anything going. He’s got tons of speed and skill, but on this night Studnicka did not look ready for the NHL.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Prospects take time. Watching this game, however, it became quite apparent that it might time to pump the breaks a bit on Studnicka. Some time in Providence is not a bad thing.

5. Cehlarik Makes His Case

Peter Cehlarik is at the point in his career where he either needs to put up or shut up. He put up on Thursday night. Cehlarik made some nifty plays with the puck, controlled the play most of the night, and scored the eventual game-winner. He saw time on a largely AHL line with Brendan Gaunce, but he stuck out in a positive way.

Cehlarik looked a little stronger and quicker, which should help his case for NHL employment. If he can provide some offense from down the depth chart, the Bruins will be in good shape. Mission accomplished on this night. Cehlarik will need more of the same if he hopes to make the lineup on a full-time basis.

Alex is a 2016 graduate of Springfield College who is currently a writer with Boston Hockey Now and The Oilers Rig. Outside of writing, you can find Alex in rinks around New England as the Play-by-Play voice of the USPHL’s Boston Junior Bruins. In addition, he does broadcasting work for Northeastern University, Holy Cross And UMass-Lowell. Reach him on Twitter: @Alex_Thomas14

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