BOSTON — Throughout Loui Eriksson’s first two years in Boston, the general public viewed him, first and foremost, as the guy the Bruins got in the Tyler Seguin trade. A good piece, sure, but one who constantly would be compared to the young phenom seen scoring goals galore down in Dallas.
Enough of that. If you haven’t already, it’s time to call Eriksson what he is: a very, very good hockey player, and one of the most important ones the Bruins have.
Eriksson has been arguably Boston’s top performer this season; at worst, he’s no lower than second on that list. And Thursday night drove that point home with a sledgehammer.
With the Bruins desperately needing a spark following an abysmal home loss to the San Jose Sharks, the 30-year-old winger responded by recording a hat trick — the third of his career and his first in black and gold — to power his club to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.
The three goals upped Eriksson’s team-leading season total to nine — one shy of the mark he reached in his concussion-plagued first campaign in Boston and on pace to soar past the 22 goals he put up in 81 games last season.
“The first year, I got that concussion, so that was not the best timing there,” he said after Thursday’s win. “And last year, I felt more comfortable. I felt really good last year. So, I was just trying to build on it and trying to get better this summer and keep it going here through this season. It’s been working pretty good.”
Indeed it has. Eriksson has recorded multiple points in five of the Bruins’ 18 games, including three of their nine victories. He’s been similarly effective — if not more so — from a puck possession standpoint while also being a major contributor on special teams and elevating the play of whichever line he’s placed on. (He began the season on Patrice Bergeron’s wing but now primarily skates with David Krejci.)
Yes, Seguin is in the midst of a fantastically productive season with the Stars. He entered Thursday ranked in the top three in the NHL in goals, assists and points, and his team owns the best record in the NHL.
But using those stats to knock Eriksson? That’s just being lazy.
“He’s not the same player as Tyler is, and the comparisons are not right,” head coach Claude Julien said. “We shouldn’t be comparing those two players. They’re two different players. But what he does bring to our team (is this): I think people are starting to realize that he may not score 40, 50 goals, but he did score three (Thursday), and he is a great player in all situations.
“When a coach has players that he trusts, that he can put on at the end of the game, he’s always one of those guys that’s on the list. That says a lot about his game.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images