WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Bruins were very conscious in their method of easing Loui Eriksson back into the lineup after coming back from his second concussion, and that re-acclamation continues just five games into his comeback.
Eriksson assisted on Carl Soderberg’s game-winner in his first game back against the San Jose Sharks, but has gone scoreless in the next four games while building some chemistry with Soderberg and Ryan Spooner.
Eriksson has five shots on net in those five games, and has looked a little tentative when the puck is on his stick in open ice. It’s something the Bruins expected after Eriksson missed more than a month after getting knocked out of the game by a Brooks Orpik hit on Dec. 7, but the Swedish winger has done a good job of impacting the penalty kill positively since his return.
Claude Julien has watched many of his players return from concussions and knows that patience is the most important thing to preach as the 28-year-old Eriksson searched for his game. Patrice Bergeron managed just eight goals and 39 points in 64 games in the 2008-09 season following his season-ending concussion. He took months to finally recover his game prior to the playoffs.
“I think when Patrice Bergeron had a concussion [in 2007-08], it took him three-quarters of a season to really find his game. I’m not going to assess his game after a handful of games. He’s had two concussions really close to each other,” said Claude Julien. “So I think it’s more about monitoring his play, and going day-by-day with him to help him find his game like we did with [Bergeron].”
The two concussions sustained by Eriksson within 45 days of each other was a stunning development for the B’s right wing when one considers how durable he was a player for the Dallas Stars. Over the previous five seasons, he’d missed a grand total of three games for Dallas – all in the 2010-11 season – and had never previously had concussion issues.
So, this season has been surprising for everybody involved.
“We all know that when guys suffer serious concussions like he did, there seems to be a bigger effect than in some other cases,” said Julien. “When you miss a lot of time, it just seems like it takes some time to get going again.
“He has been a guy that’s been durable in the past, so the thing is that we have some background on this guy. We know what he’s capable of doing. We can’t just close the book on him, or push him aside. You just keep looking for that game from him, and the only way [to get it] is to keep playing him, and keep giving him those opportunities.”
The player that Boston is hoping to eventually uncover is the one that finally emerged in the month of November for three goals and 11 points in 14 games to lead all Bruins, and has the talent to really be a big producer for the Black and Gold in the second half of the season.