After skating with the Bruins over the last couple of weeks, winger Loui Eriksson was cleared for contact at a Wednesday morning practice at the Los Angeles Kings' facility, according to the @NHLBruins twitter account.
Eriksson has been out since sustaining the second concussion of his season from a Brooks Orpik hit on Dec. 8, and had been skating with the team while wearing a non-contact jersey for the past 10 days. As expected, Eriksson was placed on the third line with Carl Soderberg, Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser while alternating shifts with Fraser on the right wing.
The Bruins clearly don’t want to mess with the chemistry developed between Reilly Smith, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, and it’s something Claude Julien broached last week before Boston left for the West Coast trip.
“It’s a legit question and we’re going to have to look at the situation. I think everybody sees that [Reilly Smith] is playing well. So that kind of creates a situation there," Julien said.
“When [Eriksson] comes back, he’ll have been off for who knows how long, so do you put him right where he belongs? Or do you give him a chance to find his game a bit? Those are all the things that I guess are going to be talked about before that happens.”
It appears that Julien has made his decision after watching Smith go for nine goals and 13 points in the 13 games since Eriksson went down in the victory over the Penguins. Eriksson has been ruled out for the game against the Kings on Thursday night in L.A., but his return can’t be too far off now that he’s been cleared for contact and symptom-free for an extended period of time.
Here are the line combos and D-pairings from the Bruins’ Wednesday practice:
Caron/Florek, Campbell, Paille