|David Krejci thinks Bruins should prioritize first line, too||12.22.14 at 4:05 pm ET|
David Krejci might want to know who his right wing is as much as anyone else.
Claude Julien‘s hands are tied. Partially because of Krejci’s injuries, he waited too long to try Loui Eriksson with Krejci and Milan Lucic. Eriksson has undeniable chemistry with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly, but the Bruins haven’t given him a chance to develop chemistry with Lucic and Krejci. Given where they currently fall in the standings, the B’s might not think they can afford a games-long getting-to-know-you period if the B’s don’t win games in the process.
So that leaves Krejci, who thought he knew who he’d have for linemates after Jarome Iginla left, with four different right wings (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne, Craig Cunningham and, ever so briefly, Eriksson) in 14 games this season.
“Everything was – it looked like we were going to play with Loui from the beginning. If not, then someone else, so it was kind of a tough situation,” Krejci told WEEI.com Monday. “I was preparing myself the whole summer [as though] I would be playing with Loui. That was on my mind. Then some injuries and those guys play pretty well together right now with Carl and Kells as a line, so yeah.”
Added Krejci: “I’m happy that we’re winning, but I’d like to be putting some points up as well. That’s why I’m here. That’s why they re-signed me. It gets a little frustrating at times. You always play with somebody else, but I’m sure we’re going to find the right guy. If not, who knows what happens? There’s always trades, you know.”
On Sunday, Julien finally started Eriksson on Krejci’s right wing to open the game. The line had a so-so first period, but allowed a second-period goal and followed it up with a shift that saw Krejci give the puck away and Lucic mishandle the puck at the blue line. Krejci’s misplay led to a Sabres scoring chance; Lucic’s forced Dougie Hamilton to trip Tyler Ennis in the neutral zone and put the Bruins on the penalty kill.
Julien returned Eriksson to Soderberg’s line, with Kelly scoring on the trio’s first shift back together. Eriksson scored the game-winner in overtime on a feed from Lucic, but it was during a line change.
While Eriksson with Kelly and Soderberg has been Boston’s most consistent line this season, it isn’t like any of Boston’s forwards are having particularly good seasons. The Bruins are the only team in the league without a nine-goal scorer. They’re one of three teams (with the Sabres and Coyotes the other two) who haven’t seen a player reach 10 goals.
Part of the Bruins’ offensive problem has been that they’ve only had Krejci for 14 games, leading Julien to mix and match different lines and play Soderberg’s line against other team’s top forwards and defensemen. Krejci’s return allows the Soderberg line to go back to playing against bottom-six players and third-pairing defensemen, which makes their job easier.
In a perfect world, the Bruins shouldn’t need Eriksson to win those shifts, as Soderberg is probably a little better than a third-line player, while Kelly has been a solid third-liner for years.
The Bruins value secondary scoring, but having a good first line is more important. The Bruins are better off when Krejci is at his best, and Krejci’s at his best when he’s comfortable with his linemates rather than taking turns training potential candidates.
So maybe it’s Eriksson and maybe it’s somebody else, but teams don’t miss the playoffs because they don’t have great third lines; they do because they don’t have first lines. Krejci is eager for Boston’s to take shape.
|A closer look at whether Carl Soderberg’s line scores too much to be broken up||12.21.14 at 2:51 pm ET|
Claude Julien does not want to separate Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. That much we definitely, definitely know.
On Sunday, Julien reiterated that stance with a quote that got us thinking.
“Right now, the Soderberg line is the only one that’s scoring for us,” Julien said, “so do you guys want me to break that up and we get no more scoring? So you pick your poison.”
Krejci has been in the lineup for 13 games and has had Seth Griffith as his right wing for 12 of them, with Simon Gagne also getting some shifts and Eriksson getting a small taste late in Friday’s game. The Bruins might not be 100 percent on Griffith being their first-line right wing, but they won’t try Eriksson to see if they have any other internal fits for the job before potentially trading for one.
So, given Julien’s quote, we looked at every goal the Bruins have scored when Krejci has been in the lineup. In each game, Soderberg and Eriksson have been together, so it’s actually rather easy to tell whether Julien has a point. Keeping in mind that different lines (Krejci’s and Patrice Bergeron‘s) have tougher matchups, here were our findings:
Total goals (13 games): 35
Soderberg line: 9
Krejci line: 8
Bergeron line: 7
Campbell line: 1
Krejci during change with Kelly, Eriksson: 1
The findings aren’t overwhelming, but they do illustrate that when the Bruins have their full offensive lineup, the Soderberg line does pretty much all of Boston’s secondary scoring (nine of 10 goals). That might be reason enough for Julien to not want to tinker with Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson.
That said, the Bruins are 22nd in the league with 2.42 goals per game (2.69 with Krejci in the lineup). They need goals, and Eriksson had a four-point game against the Flyers last season when skating with Krejci and Lucic.
Following is a goal-by-goal breakdown, which also takes into consideration that Julien changed half of his lines on Oct. 30 against the Sabres but kept Griffith with Krejci while also keeping Eriksson with Soderberg. Read the rest of this entry »
|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.