Bruins Lose Bjork, Backes and Streak

It didn’t take long for bad injury luck to strike the Bruins after the team was relatively healthy for a few months. After being recalled on an emergency basis and playing in a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, Anders Bjork was re-assigned to Providence for the All-Star Break before being recalled without the emergency distinction just a few days later. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old only played in 2:43 of ice time Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks before leaving the game with an injury.

Bjork wasn’t the only Bruin to leave the game with an injury, however, as David Backes was also removed from the game in the third period after taking a hit high and laying motionless on the ice for a stretch.

Anders Bjork Bruins
Boston Bruins rookie winger Anders Bjork, Dec. 2, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It was an exclamation point on the loss that started with a dismal first period for the Bruins who went down 2-0 in the opening frame with their worst effort in recent memory. In the defense of the Bruins, they started the game without top-line left winger Brad Marchand, top-pairing defenseman Charlie McAvoy and Noel Acciari due to suspension and injuries, respectively.

Still, in their first game without the trio, the Bruins showed that they could still play and win games. In the game against Anaheim, the Bruins barely even showed a pulse until the second period kicked off.

The effort simply wasn’t there for the Bruins early on, and to make matters worse, Anton Khudobin had an off period in relief of Tuukka Rask who was getting the day off for the Bruins. While Khudobin has played admirably for the Bruins this season, even he is susceptible to a bad game here or there.

Tuukka Rask Anton Khudobin Bruins
Boston Bruins goalies Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

When that bad performance lines up with the team in front of him struggling, a 2-0 result shouldn’t be all that surprising. Though the streak might be over, the losses of Bjork and Backes were the biggest takeaways from the game. The Bruins were due for a poor game at some point after their remarkable 18-game point streak, and even then, the team really turned things around in the final 40 minutes in terms of effort. The concern is now for the immediate future.

Upper-Body Injuries for Bjork and Backes

When the Bruins made their initial announcement regarding Bjork’s injury, they described it as an upper-body injury, indicating that he would not return to the game. It’s a big loss for the Bruins who, as mentioned, are without Marchand already and could use somebody familiar on the wing. If Bjork is expected to miss any time with this injury, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Peter Cehlarik in line for a call-up until Marchand is ready to return from his suspension.

Anders Bjork Bruins
Boston Bruins winger Anders Bjork in his rookie season (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Bjork has played in 30 games with the Bruins this season (unfortunately, that includes the 2:43 against Anaheim). In that time, he’s scored four goals and 12 points while skating up and down the lineup on the right wing. In nine games at the AHL level, Bjork has scored two goals and four points and has cooled off considerably after his first weekend with Providence. His production slowing in Providence shouldn’t cause concern, however, as he’s been tasked with prioritizing other areas of need and not scoring.

Still in his rookie season, it should be expected that Bjork will see his shares of ups and downs this year. It would be unreasonable to expect anything different as he still works on learning the professional style of play. Whether its the speed, the size and physicality, the length of the season or any combination of the bunch, making the jump to the NHL can be taxing on any player as they learn to adjust and adapt on the fly. Bjork is no different.

Bad Luck for Backes

It’s been a bad season for Backes in the health department. After undergoing surgery to remove a significant portion of his colon, however, things were looking up for the veteran forward who has scored eight goals and 19 points in 30 games this season. Despite such a significant operation, Backes didn’t lose a step physically and had been an integral part of the Bruins lineup prior to the hit.

David Backes Boston Bruins
David Backes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While it isn’t clear how long Backes will miss, if any at all. Any time without him would be significant, however, given how many absences the Bruins already have in their lineup. Immediately following the game, head coach Bruce Cassidy said that Bjork would miss some time but that Backes “looks fine.” If Backes can remain in the lineup, the Bruins will have dodged a major bullet.

While Cehlarik could be in line for a call-up, a player like Austin Czarnik could also find himself on standby until the Bruins have a better idea of what type of injuries they’re dealing with. A bad ending to this 18-game point streak, the Bruins will have to look past this loss and figure out how to regroup quickly as they are set to face off against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.