BOSTON -- Loui Eriksson was not on the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate, and will miss the game against the Florida Panthers with a “minor issue” according to Bruins coach Claude Julien. Julien also assured that the Swedish winger will be back to play on Thursday once the NHL trade deadline has passed tomorrow at 3 p.m., and that means Jordan Caron takes Eriksson’s spot on the third line right wing.
“[Eriksson] is in the back room. He’s got a minor issue that will keep him out, but he’ll be back on Thursday,” said Claude Julien. “He wasn’t able to show what type of player he at the beginning of the year because of the concussions and stuff, but he’s started to showcase the type of player we knew we were getting. He’s making some smart plays.”
The first assumption for many is that Eriksson is being held out because of an impending trade, but a potential Tuesday night showcase against Florida for 22-year-old Jordan Caron in a future trade makes much more sense. Putting Caron in the lineup with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly gives the former first round pick his best chance to succeed, and show NHL scouts there’s something there with a fresh NHL start and more consistent playing time.
That’s why showcasing a player like Caron would include putting him on the third line rather than scratching Shawn Thornton, and tossing him on the fourth line for 6-7 minutes of ice time.
Brad Marchand will take Eriksson’s spot on the second power play unit, and Caron will man Eriksson’s place on the B’s penalty kill while showing off the reliable, strong board play that’s part of his game. Caron has one goal and a minus-6 rating in 26 games this season, but hasn’t played in exactly three games since the calendar turned over to the year 2014.
“I’m not going to focus totally on Jordan because he hasn’t played in a while, but he’s worked hard,” said Julien. “His speed in practice is the same as everybody else, and he’s going to practice and compete hard. He’ll do everything he does normally: be strong along the walls and dependable.
“We just expect him to be a good player for us. He’s probably going to have to kill penalties for us tonight. A thirteenth forward coming in and playing that role? You don’t see that very often. He’ll play with Soderberg and Kelly, and hopefully keep that line going in the right direction. He’ll also be playing against top lines, so we feel comfortable with him in there in the defensive zone.”
It will be the 21st game that Eriksson has missed this season for the Black and Gold, but the first one that doesn’t have anything to do with a concussion injury. Eriksson missed a grand total of three games in five seasons with the Dallas Stars prior to being traded to the B’s in the Tyler Seguin deal on the Fourth of July.
Chad Johnson was the first goaltender off the ice for the Bruins, and will get the start against Tim Thomas.
Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Tuesday’s morning skate: