Like many of us, Anders Bjork didn’t have much to do the last few months other than sit and think.
The Boston Bruins winger went home to Wisconsin during the NHL’s pause, and at the time things went on a hiatus, Bjork was in an interesting spot.
Since turning pro, the 2019-20 campaign easily had been his best, both in terms of staying healthy and his on-ice performance. But in the weeks leading up to the pause, he often found himself a healthy scratch, in part because head coach Bruce Cassidy thought the physical area of his game needed improvement.
He’s responded well early on in training camp ahead of the season restart, being dubbed the best player by Cassidy on Day 1 while riding on a line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci. He was rewarded on Day 2 by getting moved up to the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Speaking to the media Wednesday via Zoom, Bjork candidly addressed what it was like reflecting on the last couple of months.
“It was an interesting position for me at the end there because I hadn’t really gotten scratched much until right before the pause,” Bjork said. “So I felt like I was a little nervous at the start that that was going to get to me because my mentality right before the pause was, ‘Alright, you’ve got improve and get better and really show that you’re fighting for that lineup spot in just any little way you can,’ so I did have that (desire) to get back into the lineup and show that it was just a little dip, not that that was my game.
“But I think from a mental standpoint, especially with the injuries that I’ve had since turning pro, I’ve learned that you can’t dwell on that, it’s not going to help your training, it can affect all parts of your life. So I think I’ve learned from those injuries mainly that you’ve got to keep moving forward and look at the bigger picture and not focus on a small, little thing, and there were a lot of things from the last season that I was pleased with personally, and I think I’ve tried to build off those and what areas I can take notice of more and try to improve and spend a little extra time on with the pause that we had. So that’s kind of what I did. Just focus on little things that I could improve on that would help me when we’re back playing.
“So that’s a good question. It was tough there, but I think I learned you can’t focus on one little part of the season because it’s a long season. So I tried to take that step back and focus more on the bigger picture and the things I did well and how I can build off that.”
Oftentimes this season, Bjork skated on the third line with Charlie Coyle. However, the additions of Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase at the trade deadline ultimately bumped Bjork out of the lineup.
Where all the pieces fit now is unclear, but Bjork making a convincing case to get a shot in the lineup again could add an important layer of depth to Boston’s middle six.