By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Anders Bjork’s birthday is Aug. 5.READ MORE: Wakefield Schools Warns Of Fake Email About School Bus Service
What he experienced Thursday may as well have been his second birthday.
Bjork finally got the chance to play with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in a regular season NHL game, and the celebration included the rookie’s first two-goal game and three-point night in a 6-3 win against Vancouver at TD Garden.
Playing with Bergeron and Marchand is like a dream come true for any player in the NHL or anywhere on the planet. Bjork got to live that dream.
“Both of my linemates were awesome that game and made it real easy to play with,” Bjork said. “So that was awesome. And if I can continue to get the opportunity to play with them hopefully I can bring as much to the table as they do and help out that line.”
Bjork, Bergeron and Marchand played together throughout training camp before Bergeron’s injury prevented the center from beginning the season in the lineup. By the end of his return game, Bergeron had stolen the spotlight with a goal and three assists.
But Bjork was the one that got the Bruins rolling, scoring the game-tying goal on a rebound of a Bergeron shot 3:29 into the first period after the Canucks had scored first 31 seconds earlier.
Bjork added a power-play goal during the Bruins’ three-goal outburst while the Canucks were shorthanded because of Erik Gudbranson’s major boarding penalty.
If getting to play with Bergeron and Marchand wasn’t enough, Bjork also got compliments from the two Bruins stars.READ MORE: NH Legislative Leaders Speak Out Against Antisemitic Posts
“I mean, you know, we played with him all training camp, so we established a bit of chemistry,” Bergeron said. “I thought tonight we were moving our feet very well, and he was, you know, obviously playing great hockey and making some great plays, and he was on the puck too and that makes a big difference, you know, to turn the puck over and helping us and supporting us. So yeah, it was great. He played a great game tonight.
“He’s an awesome little player, and you can tell he’s really finding his stride right now,” Marchand said. “You know, he had an awesome game tonight, and [he’s] so good at reading the ice, open areas and where to go. It takes a little bit of time to build chemistry, but I think we’re coming along.”
Life with Bergeron and Marchand is all about letting them to their two-man mambo while finding the open spaces and being ready for anything. Case in point, Marchand’s goal that gave the Bruins a 5-1 lead.
Bergeron’s not going to plow anyone over on the forecheck, and Bjork knows that. The center lifted defenseman Ben Hutton’s stick below the goal line in the Vancouver zone, the puck slid over to Bjork, and Bjork set up Marchand for a shot from the right dot.
That goal typified what it takes to play with the Bergeron-Marchand combo – a little grit to acquire the puck, a little smarts to be in the right place when the puck becomes available, and then the skill of Marchand to snipe the top corner.
“I think the biggest thing for me is not think while you’re playing, just use your instincts,” said Bjork, who has three goals and two assists through his first six NHL games. “But also be aware of where everybody is on the ice. Once you identify where the other players are, you’re able to get to the right spot. I think that’s how those guys are so successful and reading off players and I’m trying to learn from that.”
Coach Bruce Cassidy was dreaming about playing Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork together as a line almost as much as players dream about being Bergeron and Marchand’s third linemate. The coach finally got to see the results of the trio he mixed together from the start of training camp. With a healthy Bergeron, the Bruins now have their first line together. With that stability other players can find their roles, forge chemistry and balance out the Boston lineup.
And you have to figure that for however much longer he gets to play with Bergeron and Marchand, Bjork is going to enjoy plenty of celebratory nights that feel like his birthday.MORE NEWS: Man Arrested, Charged With Cold-Case Murder Of His Half-Sister In New Bedford
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter@MattKalman.