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Under Pressure: Loui Eriksson

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“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Boston Bruins, PHT selects … Loui Eriksson.

Trading anonymity for scrutiny

It’s strange to call a one-time All-Star “underrated,” but the label seems appropriate for Eriksson. Well, it did with the Dallas Stars at least, as the slick Swede hasn’t seen playoff action since 2007-08.

The 28-year-old can probably kiss anonymity away now that he’s a member of the Boston Bruins, though (just ask Nathan Horton). That’s especially true since his name will always be linked to Tyler Seguin’s thanks to a trade that will surely be judged and re-judged with harsh hindsight.. With all due respect to the other assets changing hands, many will frame the swap as Eriksson vs. Seguin.

It’s not easy being compared to a second overall pick, something Eriksson is about to find out.

Plenty of firepower

A big part of that move is that Seguin’s ceiling is potentially tantalizing at just 21, but at this moment, the move is very fair to the Bruins … on paper, at least.

Before the streak-ravaging 2013 season, Eriksson was quietly developing a reputation as one of the league’s steadiest snipers. He scored 36 goals in 2008-09 and had at least 26 goals the following four seasons. His 12 tallies in 2013 won’t knock your socks off, but he still collected a respectable 29 points in 48 games. It’s not just goal-scoring, either, as he generated three straight 71+ point seasons from 2009-10 to 2011-12.

All of that implies that the Swede will fit in gloriously in Boston, especially since people rave about his two-way play.

But does he have enough punch?

Many will wonder if he has enough “sandpaper” in his game, however.

In 48 games last season for Dallas, Eriksson registered just six hits; that’s the same as Jaromir Jagr did before being traded to Boston and less than Ray Whitney delivered in 32 games. Seguin had 25 in Boston.

Hitting isn’t everything, especially when it comes to players who practice sound positioning like Eriksson does. Still, if his scoring dries up, you can bet the word “soft” will regrettably fly around.

***

There’s nothing Eriksson can do about how well Seguin does or doesn’t play in Dallas, but Beantown could sour on him quickly if he endures the wrong kind of big, bad season.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.