Joe Haggerty of CSNNE (Comcast Sports Network New England) has reported that Loui Eriksson has not visited a B’s team facility since sustaining his concussion on December 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Boston.
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) December 16, 2013
Eriksson already suffered one concussion earlier in the year when he was blindsided by Sabres enforcer John Scott. Eriksson has already missed 8 games this season and will more than likely miss more with his second concussion. The Bruins gave up a lot to get Loui Eriksson on the team, and with his rash of recent concussions it leaves the Bruins in a dangerous position, or at least it should.
Reilly Smith has already been fantastic on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly, but now has begun shining in Eriksson’s spot on the second line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Eriksson is a great talent and a terrific hockey player and will obviously have a future with this team, but for the rest of the year (assuming he returns) how will the Bruins balance out having both Smith and Eriksson battling for Top 6 positions when both of them deserve it?
Smith has earned his place on the second line, regardless of Eriksson’s injury. Smith is third on the team in scoring with 23 points in 33 games (9 goals, 14 assists) setting a career high in goals, assists and points in an NHL season. Eriksson was struggling early on in the season and after he came back from his concussion he was starting to finally find his legs in Boston. Unfortunately for Loui, it will take even more time for him to find his legs and generate line chemistry. It would be in the better interest of the team to let Eriksson sit out the rest of the season to fully recover from his concussion; regardless of how soon he gets healthy. The Bruins did it with Nathan Horton in 2011-12 and while they floundered out in the first round against the Washington Capitals, it was mainly due to a lack of up front scoring from the Top 6. The best replacement for Horton at the time was Tyler Seguin and there wasn’t much the Bruins could field for the 2nd line. Now with Iginla up front and now Smith handling himself in a Top 6 role, the Bruins should have no issue with the up front scoring if Loui stays out. However, the question then becomes who can hold down the depth scoring with Smith out of the third line.
Matt Fraser, Nick Johnson, and Ryan Spooner have all looked fantastic in the small amount of games they’ve been able to play this season. Despite none of them having a goal and with only 3 points between them (Spooner: 3 , Fraser: 0 , Johnson: 0 ), they all seem more than ready to be able to handle the depth position on the team roster. Jordan Caron has continued to show inconsistency (and needs to be shipped out of Boston ASAP) and the three big Providence Bruin call ups have surpassed him even without all of them scoring goals. They play harder defensively, shot far more often, and have been working in the gritty parts of the ice and have been setting up a lot of very good plays (Spooner especially).
Eriksson’s return is still unknown, and with the report of him not being seen at team facilities, it’s a scary thing. But the Bruins need to take this slow and not rush Loui back into the roster. Let him sit if need be, for the sake of his health and the team.