WILMINGTON – The shots might not yet be falling for Loui Eriksson the way they did when he was a perennial 30-goal scorer for the Dallas Stars, but the Swedish forward is still finding a way to make things happen for his new hockey team.
Erikson has two goals and seven points along with a plus-3 rating in nine games during the month of November, but the goals are the residue of paying the price around the net. Three of Eriksson’s four goals were tips or redirections of point shots while planted near the front of the net and maximizing his 6-foot-2, 196-pound frame.
No matter if they bounced off his body, one of his skates or were actually repositioned by a quick stick and superior hand/eye coordination.
“When you can’t find any goals, you have to go more to the front [of the net]. That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last few games,” said Eriksson, who is on pace for 18 goals and 45 points to this point in the season. “When you go there something [good] usually happens.
“It’s important for every team. That’s how you score most of the goals these days whether it’s a rebound or a tipped shot.”
There’s no doubting Eriksson’s ability to lift pucks underneath the bar while working in tight areas around the net, and that’s the kind of finishing ability that comes in handy with so many flopping butterfly goaltenders that leave the top shelf open. But there’s also something to be said for paying the price around the net for a few extra goals when the scoring chances are few and far between.
While skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and using their forecheck to turn defense into offense, Eriksson knows finding other ways to generate offense will be a key part of his success in Boston.
“It’s always how it works. When you score goals and start to feel good, you make plays without thinking,” said Eriksson. “I’m feeling much better than I did last month, but we’re still just 20 games into the season. I want to do better every game. We want to build on the positive things we’re doing out there.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien has enjoyed Eriksson’s all-around game since he returned from his concussion, and said that the winger has turned into one of Boston’s PK guys for the NHL’s No. 2 ranked penalty kill.
“I think when you look at Loui [Eriksson], you just have to look at a good player here. He’s got points in most of his games lately, and he’s created things in a lot of those games. His penalty killing – and I don’t know if people are realizing how good of a penalty killer he is,” said Claude Julien. “He brings a lot of different things to the table, and I think right now I see him starting to be more of an effective player and more of a difference maker in our lineup as he gets more and more comfortable.
“He’s been a solid player since he’s come back. I saw him getting much better just before he got hurt. He’s taken off right where he left off, and continues to get more and more comfortable. I like his game. When you look for players to be difference makers, they have to be consistent. I think he’s pretty consistent. And even so, I think he’s getting better with that as well.”
The final component to Eriksson’s game will be a bit more plentiful and productive stretch of goal-scoring, and it would appear that is right around the corner.