|Bruins seem comfortable with idea of Loui Eriksson on top line||07.25.14 at 2:56 pm ET|
Bruins fans should prepare for Loui Eriksson on the first line next season.
Speaking to the media for the first time this summer, Claude Julien reiterated on Thursday’s conference call what’s already been said by Peter Chiarelli this summer: The team is confident that Eriksson is a viable replacement for the departed Jarome Iginla to skate alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“We don’t feel like were in a real tough situation,” Julien said. “We’ve lost Jarome, but as you’ve probably heard, I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.”
One issue with Eriksson playing on that line that has come up numerous times is the fact that he’s a left shot and that Krejci hasn’t had a left shot on the right wing in recent years, as Iginla, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin were all righties. Maybe that won’t be a problem for him at all, and maybe there will be some adjustment.
It is worth noting that Eriksson played on that line late in the regular season when the Bruins gave Iginla some time off to get him sharp for the playoffs. Amidst that stretch came Eriksson’s best offensive performance of the season, as he registered four assists (three of which were on goals by Lucic or Krejci) and had a season-high seven shots on goal.
In his time with Dallas, Eriksson was a first-liner, and the expectation when he came to Boston was that he would be the perfect second-line right wing to a team with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Those three never formed chemistry, and the struggles of Marchand and the two concussions for Eriksson meant that trio wouldn’t stick. He returned from his second concussion as a third-liner and teamed wonderfully with Carl Soderberg to provide the Bruins with their strongest third line since the Peverley-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder days of 2011.
If the roster remains the way it is now, the Bruins should absolutely weaken their third line and put Eriksson on the top line. The roster isn’t going to remain the way it is, however, as the team should trade at least one of what Chiarelli considers to be nine NHL defensemen.
Unless the defenseman traded is Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins probably won’t be getting a sure-fire first-line right wing back. If they trade a lesser commodity like David Warsofsky or Matt Bartkowski, it’s more realistic to expect a third-line candidate in return.
Barring a trade for a first-line right wing, that Krejci line will be different than years past no matter what. Since Krejci became the team’s first-line center in the 2010-11 season, he has had bookend power forwards on his line, with Lucic to his left and Horton or Iginla on his right. Eriksson is far from a power forward, and the Bruins don’t have anyone on their roster who can bring the sandpaper to the right wing the way Horton and Iginla did.
There are pros to having Eriksson there, however. He may not be as tiring to play against as Iginla, but he’s younger, faster and depends well. And it isn’t like he can’t score; last season was the first time in a full season that he hasn’t scored at least 26 goals since 2007-08. He was a 36-goal scorer once upon a time, hitting that mark in the 2008-09 season.
Last offseason, Eriksson’s place in the Bruins’ lineup seemed obvious, but that changed. Perhaps the expectations held now can change as well, but for now it appears that Eriksson is a good bet to be a first-liner.
|Third line first-rate for Bruins as they are ‘playing smart and simple’ against Canadiens||05.11.14 at 8:33 am ET|
Keep it simple.
It’s a time-tested cliche in sports and the Bruins third line is proving that it’s also a very effective way to finally get through the Canadiens’ wall of defense and establish the style of play needed to advance.
Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and an assist while Matt Fraser added an assist to help the Bruins build a 3-0 lead on their way to a 4-2 win Saturday night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series against the Canadiens at TD Garden.
The third line was responsible for the only goal of Game 4 as Fraser scored within the first two minutes of overtime on a rebound from a shot by Soderberg. Since being down 2-1, the Bruins re-worked third line has single-handedly turned the Canadiens and the series around.
“We’re playing really good. We’re playing smart and simple and making good plays and we’re getting some really good chances out there. So, it definitely feels good. We have to keep doing that,” Eriksson said. “I thought in the game the other night we played really well, too. It was nice that we kept going in this game and I thought we played a really good game. So, it was definitely nice.”
“We are pretty good team to play with a league and they are, too,” said Soderberg, who was wearing the winner’s jacket on the dais postgame. “So I think in four of five games, the first goal scorers have won the game. It’s always important, especially in the second and third.”
Since Chris Kelly went down late in the regular season, the Bruins have been searching for an answer on the third line. They tried Justin Florek, who had a measure of success against the Red Wings in the opening round. But before Game 4 in Montreal, Peter Chiarelli decided to call up Fraser, who along with Reilly Smith and Eriksson, is yet another product of the Tyler Seguin trade.
“Yeah, I play with whoever Coach [Julien] wants to play with me. But right now since Fraz [Matt Fraser] came in and he scored the game winner last game and it seems like he is fitting in pretty well with our line. Loui [Eriksson] and I, I think we have played good the whole playoffs but we haven’t scored so it is a good both of us scored,” Soderberg said of the line chemistry.
“It always takes [time] — with [Chris] Kelly we had before, it took like 10 games, 15 games to get the chemistry together but then it was all set. Loui [Eriksson] and I had that chemistry for a long time and now we have changed the third guy in our line and, I don’t know. It seems like Fras [Matt Fraser] is a pretty good option there.
|After challenging regular season, Loui Eriksson off to good postseason start with Bruins||04.21.14 at 9:17 pm ET|
When the Bruins traded for Loui Eriksson, one of the most common words associated with him was “underrated.”
He’d been a 36-goal-scorer and one of the better two-way players in the game, but because of his responsible style and the market in which he’d played, the narrative was that he didn’t get the credit he deserved while playing for the Stars.
So, when Eriksson was traded to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal, he went from being underrated to facing some lofty expectations. Eriksson struggled to find chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron early and suffered two concussions during his first regular season in Boston, and as such finished with just 10 goals and 27 assists for 37 points in 61 games.
Two games into the playoffs, however, the Bruins are getting a combination of the player they saw after he returned from his first concussion — a player who was finding his way and providing a great blend of finesse and smarts in front of the net — and the player who was playing more confidently down the stretch on a line with fellow Sweden native Carl Soderberg.
Reilly Smith knows Eriksson as well as any of his teammates, as the two played together in Dallas before being sent to Boston as the two main pieces acquired by the B’s in the Seguin trade. In Sunday’s Game 2 against the Red Wings, Smith capitalized on Eriksson’s net-front work by jumping into the crease and knocking the puck into the net to give the B’s a 2-0 lead. It came on a power play that followed the expiration of the first penalty of a five-on-three, but Boston still had its five-on-three unit with Eriksson in front on the ice. That goal stood as the game-winner as the B’s went on to claim a 4-1 victory.
That wasn’t Eriksson’s only contribution. The Red Wings haven’t scored against his line and he has been a major part of a penalty kill that has limited the Red Wings to just two shots on goal — none of which have gone in — on six power plays.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘An honor’ to be part of Boston’s healing||04.15.14 at 11:39 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to talk about the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing and the playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Last year’s Bruins playoff run served as a positive distraction for those dealing with the impact of the attacks on Boylston Street.
“I think a lot of people around the city did a lot of things to help the healing, and we were happy to be a small part of it,” Thornton said.
“We like hearing that, but we’re also aware that we just play a game, that what happened in the last year is life and a lot of people were affected, so it’s really hard for us to talk about because we’re happy to be a distraction at that time to try to put a good product out there for three hours and take people’s minds away from what was really going on. That was an honor. But at the end of the day, we just play a game, so it’s kind of tough to talk about.”
Thornton, as well as many other professional Boston athletes, visited those who were impacted by the attack in hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
“It put a lot of things in perspective,” Thornton said. “I know we say that all the time, but it’s true.
“I guess the lasting impression, [one of the Norden brothers] didn’t know who I was. I had gone there with Ken Casey from the [Dropkick Murphys], and I think he thought I was part of the band and he walked in and grabbed my ass. Then afterwards he was like, ‘Oh my God, I grabbed Shawn Thornton‘s ass.’ He was a huge hockey fan, he just didn’t recognize me at first. It was pretty funny, actually.”
|Bruins can see different looks, weigh options in final regular-season games||04.04.14 at 1:39 am ET|
The Bruins haven’t won either of their last two games and it doesn’t matter. What a hilarious stretch run.
They care, of course, but the team has reached a point in its schedule that most other teams don’t get to have: the time for not only rest, but mixing and matching in preparation for anything the B’s might encounter when the injuries inevitably come in the postseason.
The most obvious case of this has been Loui Eriksson. The last two games have seen Eriksson used on both David Krejci‘s line (in place of a resting – er, lower-body injury suffering – Jarome Iginla Wednesday) and Patrice Bergeron‘s line (Claude Julien flipped Eriksson and Reilly Smith starting in the second period Thursday).
Giving Eriksson some time on both of the top two lines is a wise move for the B’s late in the season. Should a top-six winger suffer an injury in the postseason, Eriksson would be the most likely option to move up in the lineup, so getting him some level of comfort with those players provides a good insurance policy. When he gets back in the lineup, the Bruins would be wise to use Carl Soderberg at center on one of the top two lines with that line’s center resting.
Rich Peverley used to serve in that role for the B’s, as he got used to playing with pretty much every other forward despite usually serving as a winger on the third line when everyone was healthy. The most notable case of this came in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, when Peverley played on the right wing of Krejci’s line after Nathan Horton suffered a series-ending concussion.
Of course, Eriksson already has experience playing with Brad Marchand and Bergeron from earlier in the season, but he hadn’t played on that line since Dec. 7, as Reilly Smith seized the second-line right wing job while Eriksson was recovering from his second concussion of the season. Eriksson had not played with the Krejci line this season, as the only other game prior to Wednesday that did not feature the Milan Lucic - Krejci – Iginla trio was when Soderberg and Daniel Paille filled in for a sick Lucic in Anaheim.
Eriksson playing on the Bergeron line Wednesday could also be a case of Julien weighing options given that Smith has just one goal in his last 25 games. However, Julien said earlier this week that he’s reluctant to change his lines prior to the postseason.
“Right now, there’s no doubt that you could always move guys around, but when you look at our third line, it’s been so productive,” Julien said. “You look at all our lines. Even if [Smith]‘s not producing, Bergy’s been producing really well, so our lines are producing right now.”
Meanwhile, the different looks on the back end have continued. Julien has yet to make clear his intentions for his six postseason defensemen, though the assumption is that the biggest spot up for grabs is the second-pairing left side job currently held down by Matt Bartkowski. He and Andrej Meszaros are both battling for that job, and the last two games have seen one of them play on the second pairing with Johnny Boychuk while the other was scratched.
Neither one has dazzled thus far this week. Meszaros, who scored Sunday against the Flyers, was a minus-2 Wednesday against the Red Wings, and was part of an odd Red Wings goal that came after the puck was caught in his pants. Bartkowski was also the victim of some bad luck, as the puck was lost in his skates on a first period play before Paul Ranger got the puck and sent it past Chad Johnson.
Though Bartkowski has over 500 games less of NHL experience than Meszaros, he is more experienced in the Bruins system and has already served as a top-4 defenseman for the B’s in the playoffs, which he did in the second round last season against the Rangers.
Julien has five games left to see different looks and weigh his options.
|Loui Eriksson in, Andrej Meszaros out for Bruins vs. Capitals||03.06.14 at 11:54 am ET|
Loui Eriksson will return to the lineup as expected Thursday night against the Capitals. Eriksson had been kept off the ice the previous two days due to a heel infection that made for discomfort when putting his foot into his skate.
After Thursday’s morning skate, Eriksson explained that he initially cut his heel during the Olympics and that the cut became infected.
“I got a cut in Russia, when I actually went into the cold tub,” he said. “I got a cut on my heel. So it started to get infected here the last couple of days. I’m on antibiotics right now, so I think it will be healing pretty good.”
Eriksson said that he played through some pain in Sunday’s win over the Rangers, a game in which he picked up a pair of assists.
“Skating there was kind of painful, but it went away after 10 minutes, after you’d been skating around,” he said, “but it’s feeling much better now and I think I’m going to play tonight, so it’s good.”
The recently acquired Andrej Meszaros will not play, though he is in town and took part in Thursday’s morning skate. Thursday will mark Meszaros’ 25th healthy scratch of the season.
As such, the only change to the lineup from Tuesday’s game is that Eriksson will be in, Jordan Caron will be out and Tuukka Rask is expected to be in goal for the B’s.
Defenseman Corey Potter, who was picked up on waivers Wednesday, is not yet with the team but will arrive Thursday afternoon and travel with the B’s to Tampa on Friday.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Loui Eriksson has heel infection, wasn’t part of trade talks||03.05.14 at 6:04 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed following the trade deadline that forward Loui Eriksson‘s absence from the ice the last two days had nothing to do with trade talks, but rather a minor ailment. Chiarelli revealed that ailment to be a heel infection.
“Very minor heel injury,” Chiarelli said. “A little infection in the heel that got aggravated when he put his heel in the boot.
“So no, we weren’t trading him,” Chiarelli added with an expression that was half grinning and half annoyed. “‘¦ He should be fine for tomorrow.”
Eriksson missed Tuesday’s game due to the infection. Claude Julien had said earlier Wednesday that Eriksson was expected to be on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate and play in Thursday night’s game against the Capitals.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Do the Bruins Need to Make Major Change on Defense Before 2014-15?
- Should the Bruins Re-Sign Shawn Thornton?
- Bruins Prospects Look to Preserve Their AHL Playoff Run
- Complete Guide to Bruins' 2014 Offseason
- Final Report Card for Bruins' 2013-14 Season
- Game 6 Keys for Bruins, Canadiens
- Takeaways from Canadiens vs. Bruins Game 5