Eriksson still getting feel for new linemates

Eriksson still getting feel for new linemates
September 27, 2013, 1:30 am
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Brad Marchand crashed into new linemate Loui Eriksson at one point Thursday, but the trio of Eriksson, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron accounted for two goals and nine shots.

(USA Today Sports)

WINNIPEG - Jarome Iginla seemed to immediately, almost magically, mesh with new linemates Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Before you could blink an eye, Iginla had already snapped off a pair of goals against the Montreal Canadiens in his first time donning the Black and Gold B’s sweater.

It’s been a bit more of a gradual learning curve for Loui Eriksson while skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but it’s also beginning to come around.

Their line actually produced two goals in Boston’s 3-2 overtime preseason win over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre Thursday night. The line totaled nine shots on net. Both Bergeron and Eriksson had their first goals of the preseason, and the former Dallas Stars standout ended the game with a roofed shot after the pass had originally bounced off his skate blade.

That’s a pretty good showing of skill on an overtime play where the game was obviously on the line, and his first goal was just waiting to be counted in the exhibition books.  

“It was nice to be able to score one,” said Eriksson. “It was nice to do it in overtime.”

But there were also some growing pains as the two-way threesome continues to develop a feel for each other, and determines where they need to be on the ice when skating together as a group.

In one low point, Eriksson and Marchand crashed into each other at the offensive blue line, and several times one of the three forwards was caught wandering off-side. If there was a word for being a smooth operator on the ice, each of the three forwards was far from it this time around.

“That line didn’t play that great tonight even though Eriksson had a goal, and so did [Bergeron],” said B's coach Claude Julien. “There was a lot of East-West and criss-crossing, and not much came out of it. They’re going to have to learn as a line to be a little more straightforward to make things happen. That’s how you create lanes and make things happen.

“Tonight, they seemed a little out of synch and tried to get a little too cute,” Julien said.

There were some solid passes mixed in, but there was also a good period of time when it felt like every pass was a tad off what will eventually be a well-oiled offensive and defensive machine. Eriksson said he could feel the line’s chemistry waxing and waning throughout the game, but it’s also important to remember this was only their second full preseason game together.

Bergeron missed the team’s first three games while getting a clean bill of health, but now things seem to be coming together at a reasonable rate while the trio works out the kinks.  

“It’s a little bit off. Sometimes it feels good, and sometimes it feels a little bit worse,” said Eriksson. “But that’s why we have these games. We had some good chances today, but we need to step it up a little bit more, though.”

Bergeron, Eriksson and Marchand will have one more dress rehearsal in Saskatoon against the Jets on Friday night before they really need to step it up for real.