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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.

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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.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
AP
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.