WILMINGTON -- Loui Eriksson admitted he was pretty angry for a while after suffering his second concussion this season.
Surely there was plenty of “why me?” wondering, and frustration when his season -- which had just started to get going in the right direction -- was blown up by a Brooks Orpik hit on Dec. 7 in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It definitely felt like a long time, so it was nice to get back out there,” said Eriksson. “This one was more frustrating. I was a lot angrier about it because it happened again. It’s just a bad feeling when you don’t know how long you’re going to be out for. It’s much better to be healthy, and to be back.
“I talked to Bergie a lot about it when I wasn’t feeling all that good, and he just told me to stay positive with it. It’s what I was trying to do, but it was hard in that moment with the second concussion."
In total, Eriksson missed 34 days and 15 games with his second concussion suffered in a 45-day span. Ironically it was the same exact amount of time missed by B’s enforcer Shawn Thornton when he stepped up to defend Eriksson and went after Orpik later in the game.
The Swedish winger looked no worse for the wear while putting up a 13:18 ice time total upon his return last weekend.
“It’s tough when you’re sitting out, and watching games," Eriksson said. "But I didn’t think about it all when I went out there to play. I was ready to go. I took my time this time, and everybody was patient with me. It really helped out a lot. Hockey is the game we play, and there are always going to be hits out there. That’s just a part of it. I’ll just keep playing how I’ve been playing.
“The two hits I got this year I haven’t really seen. Maybe I need to keep my eyes up a little more than I’m used to. I don’t think it’s a fair play when a guy hits you when you’re not ready for it. I definitely didn’t touch the puck on that last one, and I couldn’t do anything about that one. It’s tough.”
On the third line right wing with Carl Soderberg and young center Ryan Spooner, Eriksson looked just as comfortable as Claude Julien was attempting to make him for his first game action in more than a month. He even helped set up Soderberg’s game-winner against the Sharks.
“When you’re on the third line, you obviously don’t get a chance to play against the top lines and gives [Eriksson] a chance to find his confidence . . . to get his game back,” said Julien. “There is going to come a time when I have to make a decision to leave it that way, or make a move. But they scored a goal for us to win that game so it wasn’t a bad place for him to be.”
The most underrated stat of the 2013-14 season to this point may be that Eriksson was the B’s top point producer in the month of November with 3 goals and 11 points in 14 games along with a plus-5 rating.
While there is a nagging suspicion Eriksson hasn’t truly shown everything he can do for the Bruins, he is still a considerable talent capable of making plays, piling up points, and logging quality minutes during both special teams and five-on-five play.
With so much depth along the Bruins forward lines, one could almost view Eriksson as their big player acquisition at the wing position given the lengths of time they have played without him.
The 28-year-old is clearly a better player than anybody they could hope to snag on the trade market prior to the March 5 deadline. He’s just intent on finding his game, and perhaps growing some “European creative chemistry” with Soderberg that St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock referenced (in speaking of his own players Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko) earlier this week.
“[Soderberg and Spooner] are two very good players, two skill players," Eriksson said. "Spooner has a lot of speed, and I think playing a little bit together we can find each other a little bit more. I think that we can become a dangerous line.
“[Reilly] Smith has been playing really well for us this year, and that’s been fun to watch. I’m just happy to be back playing.”
One upcoming item that could spark Eriksson now that he’s back in the Black and Gold fold: He will return to Dallas later this week for the first time since being traded to Boston this summer. Ironically, the B’s home game against the Stars at the beginning of November was his first game back from his first concussion suffered at the hands of John Scott.
Perhaps the trip to the Lone Star State can spur another hot streak from Eriksson in January for a Bruins hockey club that is happy to have their Swede back, and hoping to see what kind of production they can get from him during a long, healthy stretch of games.