When Jarome Iginla left the Boston Bruins via free agency, General Manager Peter Chiarelli wasted little time giving insight to who the Bruins would aim to replace Iginla with. Based off the team’s cap woes, most assumed Chiarelli would point to an upgrade from the current roster to supplant Iginla. The day after Iginla signed a three year deal with the Colorado Avalanche, Chiarelli expressed comfort and security around the idea of Loui Eriksson jumping up to the top line. Here are some comments from Chiarelli that day.
“I have no problem with Loui playing on that top line and I’ve talked to Krejci about it and he welcomes it,” Chiarelli said. “Loui plays a give-and-go game and he’s very smart passing to areas. He’s very compatible with Krejci.”
Since those comments six weeks ago, everything has been relatively quiet regarding the Bruins. However, Monday was the fourth annual Shawn Thornton “Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s” annual golf charity tournament and Eriksson was one of many active Bruins who participated in the event.
In an interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald , Eriksson expressed confidence going into his second season with the team. Loui pointed at the importance of gaining another year of experience with his teammates and seems to believe that his improved understanding of the Bruins’ system will be crucial to his success. Eriksson also went on to point out that the chemistry that has been built over the last several years between David Krejci and Milan Lucic will be conducive to his success on the top line.
On the surface will look back on Eriksson’s first season and look at one that saw him miss 21 games due to injury and post mediocre numbers for someone who had averaged 29.5 goals a year with the Dallas Stars from 2008 through 2012. However, Eriksson’s season can be deceiving if not examined carefully.
Eriksson wasn’t able to get into a groove with the Bruins until towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. This could be seen through his production as the team marched towards the Presidents Trophy by posting 17 points in his last 24 games. Plus, although it may be a very small sample size, Eriksson did experience some time on the top line in a regular season game against the Flyers that saw Loui have four assists working with Krejci and Lucic.
As much as I hate to see the Swedish duo of Eriksson and Carl Soderberg broken up; this will be the best move for the Bruins going into this season and could end up working out. Another important thing to keep in mind regarding Eriksson’s health is how prior to this season he only missed three games in the last five years. Concussion issues are always tricky but Eriksson seemed to be at his best when the Bruins needed him at the end of the season. After all, I don’t think I’m alone in looking back and saying the third line looked to be the most productive consistently throughout the Bruins time in the playoffs.