BOSTON – Most nights, the numbers produced by Loui Eriksson aren’t going to be of the eye-popping variety, but the Swedish right winger put together something extra special against the Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
Skating in the place of the injured Jarome Iginla alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic, Eriksson racked up four assists and a plus-3 in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden. That was two days after spending the final two periods of Thursday night’s loss to the Maple Leafs skating on the right wing side with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and months before that of creating a legitimately dangerous third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly.
No matter what line he’s manning, Eriksson is bringing an active, strong presence to the front of the net and led all players with seven registered shots on net. Eriksson and Lucic battled in front of the Boston net to set up David Krejci’s first goal of the game, and was in attack mode throughout the game.
It was similar to Thursday night when Eriksson set a textbook screen on the Leafs goalie during Patrice Bergeron’s goal that helped get things to overtime.
“He’s a smart hockey player, and you’re starting to see how important that part of his game is to our team. Because he’s been injured twice at the beginning of the year with those concussions, we haven’t seen Loui at his best until after the Olympics,” said Claude Julien. “He’s gotten much better and has recovered, and now you’re seeing the real Loui that everybody’s been talking about.
“He adapts to any line he’s with, and he’s been a great asset to that third line with Carl Soderberg and [Chris] Kelly. He was a great asset tonight with [David] Krejci’s line. I thought he did a great job also on Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron’s] line the other night in Toronto. That line kind of got itself going with him. It means a lot as far as what he’s capable of bringing to our team.”
It means a lot as far the versatility Eriksson can give the B’s coaching staff going forward as well. No matter what might befall the Bruins up front, they have a player that can fit on any of their lines in the playoffs.
Perhaps the Swedish winger is trying to prove a point to the Bruins that he’s read for top six duty should the need arise in the coming weeks. Eriksson’s eight goals and 34 points in 58 games aren’t exactly taking anybody’s breath away, but he appears to be picking up his game as the Bruins stand just five games away from the playoffs.
Whether an injury opens up an opportunity or Reilly Smith’s struggles open a door for him, Eriksson appears ready with his cerebral two-way play and ability to play big minutes at a high level.
“All those players are really good right now and I’m just trying to go in there and help them out,” said Eriksson. “I’m just trying to do my best when I get the chance. I thought we have been creating chances every night so it’s been good.”
Eriksson is certainly okay with his third line role, and scoffed at the notion playing a bigger role provides any greater motivation in a game like Saturday’s against the Flyers.
“I just want to go out there and play the best I can. I think we were playing pretty good, our line with Kells [Chris Kelly] and [Carl] Soderberg before and I’m in someplace new right now,” said Eriksson. “I’ve been able to play with some different types of players. It’s pretty easy to play with [David] Krejci and [Milan] Lucic, they are two great players to play with and they are making some great plays out there and [Saturday] we had a good game.”
More specifically, Eriksson had a good game on Saturday and continues to trend in a positive direction with his first playoff run for the Bruins still waiting right in front of him. All he needs now is a goal or two to end a stretch of just two goals scored in his last 25 games while so many Bruins players have been on fire offensively around him.