Before the Boston Bruins took on the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at TD Garden, coach Bruce Cassidy told the media that Joakim Nordstrom would take over for Ryan Donato in the lineup. But not only would Nordstrom take over for one of the young Bruins forwards, he’d also be playing in a top-6 role alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
Many fans understood the idea of benching Donato. At times during the teams first three games the 22-year-old forward was being outplayed and looked overmatched, so a benching was expected. What some fans (myself included) didn’t like was the idea of Nordstrom playing in the top-6. Those fans that questioned Cassidy it were wrong.
Just 36 seconds after the black and gold took 2–1 lead over the Oilers, Nordstrom made a terrific play in the neutral zone that sparked a 2-on-1. The Swedish forward sped into the offensive zone with Krejci and finished off the play with his first goal in a Bruins uniform to give the B’s a 3-1 lead. The goal wasn’t the only bright spot of the night for Nordstrom, who made a terrific, underrated defensive play in the third period to stop an Oilers forward who was all alone in front of the net. His all-around performance helped the Bruins capture a 4–1 victory over Edmonton.
The first two games of Nordstrom’s Bruins campaign left some fans questioning why he was signed by the club. At times Nordstrom looked as if he wasn’t even good enough to be the 13th forward on the team. But after his performance against the Oilers, it’s clear that there’s some talent in Nordstrom’s game. And if Nordstrom can bring that effort night in and night out, it really helps the Bruins offense.
The good thing about Nordstrom showing off his talent is that it’ll now push the under performing young talent on the Bruins roster. Guys like Donato, Danton Heinen, and Anders Bjork will see their jobs threatened if they continue to lack production, and veterans, like Nordstrom, come in and help the club win.
Much like we’ve seen with Tuukka Rask, bringing in an established veteran to push their game is a terrific motivation point. The Bruins want the best out of their players and sometimes the threat of losing their job is what they need to play their best hockey. I was skepitcal of Joakim Nordstrom at first. Now I understand why he’s on this club. He isn’t the most talented player, but if he continues to play good hockey he’ll be taking a job away from one of the young players. Do the young guys want that? Absolutely not. And because of that we’ll see the young guys play their best hockey to keep their spot on the Bruins roster.
Kevin Maggiore (@kevin_maggiore)