|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins should ‘add something significant along the blue line’||02.26.14 at 1:29 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the possibility of the Bruins adding a defenseman prior to the deadline, Peter Chiarelli‘s scouting and Loui Eriksson. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With the NHL trade deadline next Wednesday at 3 p.m., Brickley said how the Bruins view the blue line will determine whether they add a defenseman.
“I think it all starts with how you evaluate what’s going on along the blue line,” Brickley said. “This is a team that prides itself on goaltending, team defense, some strong penalty-killing, and then that balanced offense is somewhere further down in terms of priority. And if you have that type of analysis, then I think you have to look real closely at the group of six or seven that they have on the blue line right now and say, ‘Is this group good enough, deep enough to carry us to an Eastern Conference final and get us to a Stanley Cup final and an opportunity to win this thing.’ And I think that’s what has to be addressed, because in my evaluation I would like to see them add something significant along the blue line.”
Brickley was complimentary of Chiarelli’s ability to identify defensemen who work well with the team.
“The thing about what Peter is able to do along with his management team and the scouting crew, identify a guy like Torey Krug and go out and pay maybe a couple extra dollars to make sure he comes to Boston,” Brickley said. “You make a deal for [Matt] Bartkowski, when nobody really makes notice of it or takes notice of it. You draft a kid like Dougie Hamilton in the first round. You identify a player like Kevan Miller and allow him to play in the American Hockey League and learn how to be a good depth defenseman. And those guys are all significant pieces to what the Bruins have been able to put together and accomplish and pile up points to this point in the regular season.”
Brickley is concerned with the lack of experience the young defensemen have, however, and would rather move Johnny Boychuk out of the top two.
“But as we know the playoffs are a different animal and you’re talking about very little experience there in that foursome,” Brickley said. “Now you have Johnny Boychuk, because of the added absence of Adam McQuaid as well due to a lot of injuries over the last year plus, almost two years. And of course Dennis Seidenberg being out of the lineup. Now you have [Zdeno] Chara, Boychuk, that’s your one-two combination. And I think you’re a really strong defense if Boychuk is somewhere in your top four, but maybe not your top two. And that’s certainly not an indictment on his play, because I love his game and I love how, how game he is, as a matter of fact, to speak to his character.”
Added Brickley: “But if you can go out and acquire, or certainly add to the players that you have on the blue line, as well as they’ve played, now I think you have a much better chance when you get in the postseason. You know there’s going to be injuries, you know there are certain matchups that you’re looking for, based on the opponents that you’re going to draw, and if you can have seven, eight NHL caliber, and maybe even a top two, three that might not be there right now, I think your chances certainly improve as far as going where you want to go and reaching the goals that you set.”
Eriksson, who has not produced big numbers in Boston, played well for Sweden in the just-completed Olympics. Brickley said that the extra playing time, along with playing on the third line, could help the 28-year-old.
“Eriksson needed to play hockey, he needed to play hockey over in Sochi, and he seemed to be — he seemed to be finding his game more and more a little bit before the break,” Brickley said. “He seemed to have some chemistry with [Carl] Soderberg in particular, the two Swedes. Seemed to slide into that third line, instead of the pressure of being in that top six, that seems to be paying dividends. And his awareness, when you watched him play, although it was the bigger ice surface, his awareness of all the moving parts going on around him seemed a lot cleaner, a lot sharper. When you come back from injuries, that’s the one thing you have to be concerned about when you’re coming back from a concussion, is that awareness. Seemed a lot better in the Olympics, so that’s what I’m looking for. And he needs to continue to play. So maybe the break was good for him in terms of playing hockey.”
|Loui Eriksson (teeth) misses practice, Adam McQuaid can’t work with Bruins during break||02.07.14 at 2:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins held a very brief practice Friday afternoon, skating for a little over 20 minutes in their last practice before the Olympic break. The B’s will host the Senators Saturday and then return to practice on Feb. 20.
Loui Eriksson and Adam McQuaid were both missing from practice, as Eriksson was getting dental work done following a high stick to the mouth in the first period of Thursday’s game and McQuaid remains out with a leg injury. Zdeno Chara also remains out as he is already in Sochi for the Olympics. With Eriksson out, Jordan Caron skated in his place on the third line, though Claude Julien said he expects Eriksson to play Saturday.
“Loui’s doing OK. The only reason he missed is he’s obviously getting some dental work done and making sure he’s all fixed up before tomorrow and before he leaves for the Olympics,” Julien said. “He should be in the lineup tomorrow; there’s no reason why he shouldn’t, but I think it’s going to be a long day for him, getting his mouth fixed.”
As for McQuaid, he will not play Saturday, though the team hopes he will be able to play after the break. He has not played since Jan. 19.
Because teams have to break for the Olympics, McQuaid will not be able to see team doctors and trainers regularly, though he was able to rehab his blood clot condition during the lockout without the help of the team staff.
“With the CBA and stuff like that, he’s basically on his own, but he will continue to get the treatments and all that stuff that he needs,” Julien said. “Hopefully, by the time we get back, he’ll be ready to jump in with us. If not then, very soon.”
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|Loui Eriksson trying to keep his head up after latest scare||01.17.14 at 12:23 am ET|
DALLAS — It wasn’t a great sight for the Bruins to see Loui Eriksson take a big hit from Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon in the neutral zone during the second period of Thursday’s game. Fortunately for the B’s, Eriksson said following the game that he has no grogginess to show for it.
Eriksson had just passed the puck at around center ice when Dillon delivered the crushing hit, knocking the Bruins forward to the ice likely playing a role in why he spent the next six and a half minutes or so on the bench. The former Star was playing in his third game since returning from his second concussion of the season, so he was relieved that he didn’t suffer a third.
“It was a good test,” Eriksson said with a laugh. “I felt alright after that one and I haven’t had any feeling afterwards, so that was a good test.”
Though Eriksson was upbeat following the game, there is no doubt that he needs to stop playing with his head down. Asked if he is more aware that he needs to keep his head up in the neutral zone given his concussions, he said he is.
“I think I am,” Eriksson said. “That one, I don’t know what happened. I got caught again in kind of the same situation, but hits happen in the game and you just have to be ready for it. That one, it was a good hit.”
Eriksson, who played seven seasons in Dallas before being dealt to the Bruins in the Tyler Seguin trade last summer, was greeted at the American Airlines Center with a “THANK YOU, LOUI” message on the scoreboard during a first-period intermission. Eriksson was then shown on the screen as fans gave him a standing ovation.
“I missed it, actually,” Eriksson said. “I had to talk to the coach there during that [stoppage], so I didn’t see it, but I heard it was nice. I heard the cheers and everything, so it was nice to hear.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Dallas brings back memories for Loui Eriksson||01.16.14 at 2:41 pm ET|
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.”
|Bruins get a boost with return of Loui Eriksson||01.12.14 at 2:58 am ET|
Claude Julien‘s lineup is getting closer and closer to back to normal.
The loss of Dennis Seidenberg will be felt for the rest of the season, but the Bruins saw some familiar faces Saturday night as Loui Eriksson returned from a concussion and Shawn Thornton came off his 15-game suspension. Eriksson made an immediate impact, firing a shot from the high slot that bounced off Scott Hannan’s skate to Carl Soderberg in the third period of a scoreless game against the Sharks. Soderberg put it in for the game’s only goal, with Eriksson receiving the primary helper.
It’s obviously been a trying season for the Bruins, who have had seven different players miss at least seven of the team’s 45 games thus far due to injury in addition to Thornton’s suspension. Yet their roster is slowly taking shape again, as Chris Kelly (broken right fibula) is now the last available piece the team is waiting on. He’s expected back sometime this month, but it’s been a tougher recovery for Kelly than he expected.
[Johnny Boychuk also missed Saturday’s game, but it was due to a personal matter, so he can be expected to be back in the lineup in short order.]
It’s Kelly’s line that figures to provide the most intrigue once he is ready. With Reilly Smith remaining stable as a table on Patrice Bergeron‘s line, the Bruins elected to play Eriksson on the third line Saturday after Eriksson had played exclusively on Bergeron’s line when healthy this season.
Saturday’s third line consisted of Ryan Spooner between Eriksson and Soderberg. The Soderberg-Kelly-Smith line was very good for the Bruins when it played together, so the B’s can take the coming games to determine just what kind of look they want to get from their third line as they await Kelly’s return. Perhaps surprisingly, the amount of good options leaves them with far better third line prospects than they had a season ago.
The silver lining in this injury-plagued season for the Bruins is that Eriksson is the only top-six player to miss time with an injury this season. Milan Lucic missed Tuesday’s game in Anaheim due to food poisoning, but the top line of David Krejci between Lucic and Jarome Iginla has played together for every other game. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith have yet to miss a game.
With Thornton back, the Bruins sent Justin Florek to Providence after three strong performances in his first taste of the NHL. Florek factored into Bruins goals in all three games he played, providing a screen for a Torey Krug goal against the Jets last Saturday, assisting Daniel Paille‘s second-period goal on Tuesday and scoring his first career NHL goal Thursday against the Kings. The big 23-year-old likely won’t have a job in Boston without injuries, but he definitely used the tail end of Thornton’s suspension (as well as a Jordan Caron back injury) to show that he can be an NHL fourth-liner.
As for why the Bruins elected to send Florek down rather than Caron, there’s no use in losing a player when you don’t have to. That’s the risk the B’s would have taken had they attempted to assign Caron to Providence, as he would have needed to clear waivers first. Considering the player that stays will be a healthy scratch anyway, it wouldn’t make much sense to lose Caron just so Florek could not play up in Boston.
Despite him surviving the cut this time, keep an eye on Caron going forward, as Spooner might have cemented a spot on the NHL roster by the time Kelly returns, and depending on how many defensemen the B’s have up, the Bruins might be forced to expose Caron to waivers once Kelly’s ready or perhaps sooner. The B’s invested a first-round pick in Caron in 2010, and though he his a strong defensive player who is a valuable penalty killer, his lack of an offensive game could eventually make him expendable.
From offense to defense to backup goaltender, there have been plenty of moving parts with this Bruins roster this season. Through it all they stand second in the Eastern Conference with 60 points, so despite it not always being pretty, they’ve been able to manage.
|Bruins activate Loui Eriksson, send Justin Florek to Providence||01.11.14 at 9:50 pm ET|
The Bruins activated Loui Eriksson from injured reserve and sent forward Justin Florek to Providence Saturday.
The move allows Eriksson to return to the lineup after missing the last 15 games with his second concussion of the season.
Florek, who was recalled last week to play in place of Jordan Caron, played very well on the fourth line for the B’s over the last three games. The 6-foot-4 winger provided a screen on a Torey Krug goal, assisted a Daniel Paille goal over the first two games of his callup and scored his first NHL goal Thursday against the Kings.
Florek will likely be replaced by Shawn Thornton against the Sharks as Thornton returns from a 15-game suspension.
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|Loui Eriksson cleared for contact||01.08.14 at 9:19 pm ET|
Bruins forward Loui Eriksson has been cleared for contact, Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters Wednesday. Eriksson took contact in Wednesday’s practice after returning to the ice last week.
Eriksson is recovering from his second concussion of the season, which he suffered on Dec. 7 against the Penguins. The veteran winger has missed a total of 19 games this season between his two concussions. Julien told reporters that Eriksson is not expected to play Thursday against the Kings.
Both Milan Lucic (illness) and Jordan Caron (back) were reportedly back on the ice for Wednesday’s practice after missing Tuesday’s game against the Ducks.
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