DALLAS — Bruins leading goal-scorer Reilly Smith sat by himself next to a massive scrum for Loui Eriksson after Thursday’s morning skate at American Airlines Center.
“Smitty,” Matt Bartkowski called from across the Bruins’ dressing room. “Did you used to play here?”
“No,” Smith responded with a deadpan delivery. “Loui did, though.”
That’s the way it is. Smith, a 2009 third-round pick of the Stars who played in Dallas last season before being shipped to the Bruins in last summer’s trade, doesn’t hold a candle popularity-wise to Eriksson, who had 150 goals and 207 assists for 357 points over seven seasons in Dallas.
In fact, a picture of Eriksson still hangs in the press dining room at American Airlines Center. Dallas still has memories of Eriksson, and Eriksson still has memories of Dallas.
“You have a lot of memories from playing so many games here, a lot of good memories,” Eriksson said. “I think it will be a little bit weird tonight to go out and play in this building, but it will be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
It obviously hasn’t been an easy first season in Boston for Eriksson, who was a durable player in Dallas (he missed just three games over the previous five seasons) but has missed 20 games due to a pair of concussions. As such, he’s struggled to really hit his stride as some of the 26 games in which he’s played have been spent trying to get comfortable.
Claude Julien  was asked by a Dallas reporter after Thursday’s morning skate about what Eriksson has brought to the team.
“A lot of injuries,” Julien replied. “It’s been unfortunate with the concussions, and I said that sarcastically because he’s a good player and when he’s been at the top of his game, you can see the smarts, you can see why he’s a good two-way player, but unfortunately those injuries he suffered were pretty serious injuries. There’s no doubt it’s set him back and we haven’t seen the best out of Loui yet. There’s still half a season left, and hopefully he stays healthy and we see the best of him in that second half.
“If that’s the case, then that will be great, but the other guy, Smith, has been outstanding for us. We’ve been pretty happy with both players, just disappointed in the fact that he’s suffered so many injuries. It’s been tough on him, and it’s obviously taken away a lot from our hockey club.”
Eriksson has spent the last two games (his first back from a Dec. 7 concussion) playing on the third line with Ryan Spooner and fellow Swedish winger Carl Soderberg. That line, like Eriksson’s season with the Bruins, is a work in progress with high ceilings.
“Hopefully I can score some goals here tonight and get some confidence after that,” Eriksson said. “They’re a good team to play against, so it’s going to be a good game tonight.”