|5 things we learned as Bruins get David Krejci back and win||12.17.14 at 10:47 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the Bruins got three things Bruins fans thought they might never see again: three goals, a win and David Krejci.
After an up-and-down showing from the B’s in Minnesota, Loui Eriksson took a feed from Carl Soderberg and tucked it behind Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom to give the Bruins a 3-2 overtime win over the Wild (click here for the boxscore). The win was Boston’s first in four games.
Krejci returned to the lineup after missing the last 11 games. He had one shot on goal and had a minus-13, even-strength Corsi, which was worst among Bruins forwards.
Krejci played a part in Minnesota’s game-tying goal in the third period. A turnover from Krejci in the defensive zone led to a Ryan Suter point shot that Niklas Svedberg stopped with his blocker. Zach Trotman picked up the rebound, but Jason Pominville whacked it away from Trotman and into the net to tie the game at two goals apiece.
That said, Krejci’s return is mammoth for the Bruins, who have had their first-line center for just 12 games this season and fell out of a playoff spot without him.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BRUINS STILL LIKE GRIFFITH WITH KREJCI
With Krejci returning to the top line, so too did Seth Griffith. The Bruins have played Griffith as their first-line right wing in every game Krejci has played this season, but they have generally used Griffith as a bottom-six player without Krejci.
It’s an odd choice on the Bruins’ part to not try other players with Krejci and Milan Lucic to determine how many potential in-house candidates the B’s have to fill their seemingly up-for-grabs first-line right wing job. The Bruins have still not tried Loui Eriksson with Krejci and Lucic this season.
The lines were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Cunningham
|Thoughts on the Bruins and trades||at 4:21 pm ET|
The Bruins aren’t great and they aren’t going to be unless they make some sort of move. Here are some thoughts and some speculation, which I hate doing:
— As you’ve probably heard by now, the Oilers might not love Taylor Hall so much. He’s one of the best wings in the world and makes $6 million a year through 2019-20.
Sean Gentille of The Sporting News did a post on Hall and floated an idea of what it would cost to get Hall, with Dougie Hamilton, Malcolm Subban, Chris Kelly and a first-rounder making up his speculated package.
I wouldn’t trade Hamilton and the internet more or less agreed, but Gentille wasn’t wrong in suggesting that’s what it would take. Assuming the Oilers come close to knowing what they’re doing, Hamilton is the guy they should want if they were ever to talk trade with the B’s. Again, I wouldn’t do it.
Another thought on Hall: If the Bruins were to get him – which, no – you’d have to get rid of Milan Lucic or Brad Marchand, as Hall is a top-six left wing and so are they. Both Lucic and Marchand have modified no-trade clauses. There’s also that thing about the Bruins needing right wings, not left wings.
— My media buddy who thinks trading Tuukka Rask should be in play at any point ever is a nice person and also an incorrect person.
— It’s whizz or get off the pot time with Loui Eriksson. Either play him on a top line with David Krejci or trade him.
Eriksson’s a great third-line player who hasn’t gotten a long look with Krejci and Milan Lucic since he got to Boston. He doesn’t score, but the Bruins can either learn that he can with Krejci or they can see if there’s a team out there that believes he’s being underutilized with the B’s.
Once Krejci is back, the Bruins’ concern shouldn’t be breaking up their third line. It should be finding out whether they have the makings of a good first line.
|With scoring down, Milan Lucic admits to feeling the pressure ‘a little bit’||11.25.14 at 9:53 am ET|
For Milan Lucic, it’s the small steps forward that are a sign that things are getting better.
On a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, the Bruins forward charged the net and was rewarded with a pass from Eriksson that gave him a chance to put the puck into a vacated net for just his fourth goal of the season. Lucic had all the time in the world to think about how many missed chances he’s had to score this season. Instead, he put it in for arguably the easiest non-empty goal he’s ever scored.
“I saw that he saw me and I knew he’s capable of making the play,” Lucic said of Eriksson. “It was just a great play by Loui, heads up play to see me there all by myself in front of the net and for myself you saw it was a little bit of delayed I just wanted to make sure I put that one in the back of the net.”
Lucic scored just his fourth goal of the season in Boston’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins Monday night at TD Garden.
“I think, all in all, we played a pretty good game,” Lucic said. “We didn’t spend too much time in our own zone and we were able to create a bunch of scoring chances. I think what got a better is we were attacking with a lot more speed off the rush and we were strong on the pucks and driving to the front of the net and trying to create chances that way. For myself just on that goal, just driving the net, stopping in front, and a great play by Carl and Loui to get me the puck there for that first goal.”
He was also in front of the net when Eriksson put a puck on net with he and Soderberg charging the crease. The puck went in off Soderberg, but the goal was disallowed when the referee ruled on replay that Soderberg shoved it in with his glove.
|Loui Eriksson: First season with Bruins ‘tougher than I thought’||08.11.14 at 2:09 pm ET|
MIDDLETON – Loui Eriksson was among four current Bruins in attendance to support Panthers forward Shawn Thornton at his annual Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament at Ferncroft Country Club
Eriksson, who was traded to Boston last summer in the Tyler Seguin megadeal, is set to enter next month’s training camp as Boston’s first-line right wing. This comes after an up-and-down debut season in Boston that saw the now-29-year-old forward struggle with concussions and adjustment to a new team. Eriksson eventually found very strong chemistry with Carl Soderberg and was dominant when teamed with David Krejci and Milan Lucic late in the regular season while the team rested Jarome Iginla.
The longtime Dallas Star told WEEI.com Monday that he didn’t anticipate such a rocky time adjusting to his new team last season, but then again nobody could have expected injuries hitting Eriksson, as he had played every game in all but one of the previous five seasons (three games missed in 2010-11).
The lack of offensive production (he finished the season with 10 goals and 27 assists for 37 points in 61 regular season games) led to some impatience from fans, but Eriksson, who scored 36 goals in the 2008-09 season and was an All Star in 2011, said the fans should have held him to a high standard.
“It was tougher than I thought, actually, but it was something I have to live with, too. Of course they should have high expectations,” Eriksson said. “It was kind of a tough beginning of my season to play for Boston with all the concussions and everything a new system. I thought I was getting into it more at the end of the season and into the playoffs.”
Check back later for more on Eriksson and what he expects from his second season in Boston. For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|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.