BOSTON — Bruins forward Loui Eriksson has some of the best advanced statistics on the team. What those mean, exactly, is still a little foggy for those who don’t pay close attention to those seemingly complicated metrics.
There is a surge of emphasis on advanced stats in hockey. It hasn’t reached the level that the Moneyball and Sabermetric movement gripped baseball, but it’s certainly growing. The fancy stats are rooted in an emphasis on puck possession, and Eriksson is one of the best puck possessors on the Bruins.
Eriksson’s 5-on-5 Corsi rate — which essentially divides shot attempts for by shot attempts against — is third on the Bruins at 59.2 percent. He trails just Patrice Bergeron (who leads the NHL) and Brad Marchand. Eriksson’s Corsi relative — his number relative to the team’s number when he’s not on the ice — is 5.2 percent. That’s fourth on the Bruins.
But again, what exactly does it all mean? Well, it seems to indicate that Eriksson is one of the best all-around players the Bruins have. That’s a claim that can be backed up by teammates who’ve had a chance to see Eriksson play up close for the first time this season.
Eriksson’s success has a lot to do with instincts and the ability to be in the right place at the right time. If the puck is on the ice, more often than not, Eriksson is nearby. And if the puck isn’t on or near his stick, give it a couple of seconds and that’ll probably change.
“I think he’s got the best stick in hockey,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said Monday. “He knocks down so many passes, he creates so many plays and he’s just fit in nicely playing all three zones with the Bruins style.”
Eriksson has been so effective that the Bruins have been able to move him around as necessary. Eriksson has spent time on the Bruins’ second and third lines this season and recently was moved up to the first line with Jarome Iginla getting a couple of nights off.
“(Eriksson’s stick is) in the right position where’s it’s turning pucks over, stick on puck most of the time,” first-line winger Milan Lucic said. “Whether it’s cutting off passes or getting in there to poke a puck into the right direction and stuff like that. Those are some of the traits that you need in order to be an effective player as he is.”
Eriksson also is starting to pile up some points. He registered a career-high four assists in the Bruins’ 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, giving him 14 points since the beginning of March. His ice time has increased as well, with Eriksson logging at least 17:53 in six of his last seven games. That simple stat might be the most telling of all.
“He plays power play, he kills penalties. He’s out there if you’re up by a goal or down by a goal in the last minute,” Kelly said. “I don’t know what else you want in a player.”