Author: James O'Brien


Is Loui Eriksson starting to get it together?


Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson probably has the right attitude about the inevitable Tyler Seguin comparisons: he told that there’s not much he can do about the rising star’s work in Dallas.

The key, then, is just to play as well as he can. So far, that really hasn’t worked out so well in Boston, but that might be changing.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien seems to notice a difference lately.

“Like all players in this league when they get on a roll, they feel good about themselves,” Julien said. “To me, he’s showing the kind of player we’ve always thought he was. He’s scoring some goals, he’s making some plays and he’s killing penalties. He’s a guy that you can use in all kinds of situations, so right now I think we’re seeing some of his best hockey.”

The 29-year-old’s really been finding his scoring touch lately.

Eriksson scored two goals in Boston’s crucial win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. He has four goals and two assists for six points in his last four contests.

While his possession stats were subtly good last season, they remain respectable enough so far in 2014-15, so there’s reason to believe that he can be the two-way player Boston was expecting when they made that pivotal trade.

Will he ever be able to silence those who can only compare him to the superstar the Bruins parted with? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that the Swede can’t help Boston win games. It seems like he’s finally making that evident in recent games.

Avs ultimately plan on sending Pickard back to AHL

Calvin Pickard

The Colorado Avalanche plan on keeping Calvin Pickard around through the Christmas holiday, but eventually he’ll return to the AHL, the Denver Post reports.

The logic seems understandable enough: Semyon Varlamov returned (and shut out the St. Louis Blues) and will likely get the vast majority of starts, so why not let Pickard get extra seasoning at the AHL level rather than planting him to the bench?

Pickard, 22, seems to get it.

“Varly’s the No. 1 guy here,” Pickard said. “He’s healthy now, and he deserves to play because he’s a world-class goalie and he was one of the reasons why they were so good last year. He looks ready and very good in practice.”

One cannot help but wonder if Colorado might want to consider giving both goalies some reps, at least while Pickard’s on such a roll.

Even with last night’s shutout, Varlamov’s 2014-15 stats aren’t as impressive as what Pickard has generated (all of which are in small samples, mind you). Check out Colorado’s goalie stats so far:

Pickard: 6-5-2, .939 save percentage, 2.06 GAA

Varlamov: 5-6-5. .913 save percentage, 3.01 GAA and two shutouts

Reto Berra: 2-2-1, .882 save percentage, 3.57 GAA

Would the Avalanche be better off rotation starts, or even simply having a goalie on top of his game in Pickard (rather than someone who seems pretty cold at the moment in Berra)? Perhaps, but this is clearly still Varlamov’s team.

Sabres aren’t happy with league’s decision regarding Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta

The Buffalo Sabres have to move on from the league’s decision not to suspend Matt Bartkowski for his hit on Brian Gionta, but that doesn’t mean they have to like it.

The team vented to the Buffalo News regarding the lack of supplemental discipline for the Boston Bruins defenseman.

“It’s never a good thing to see,” Sabres blueliner Josh Gorges said. “You never want to see anybody get hurt, and hopefully he’s not out too long. I’m not really sure how that’s handled. It was a five-minute penalty, major and a game. I thought it was supposed to be an automatic hearing and review. But they make their decisions and we live with it.”

Sabres head coach Ted Nolan almost seems to wonder if there’s something wrong with the culture of the sport.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, some of your players put themselves in vulnerable positions,” Nolan said. “Does that give you the green light to hit them in that position? Sometimes the sportsmanship should come out but, once in a while, that doesn’t seem to be the fact anymore.”

Here’s video of the hit:

Bartkowski received a game misconduct for his actions. The Sabres told the Buffalo News that Gionta has an upper-body injury, yet they don’t believe that it’s a concussion.

PHT Morning Skate: Yay or nay on ‘Lord of the Rings’ jersey?


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

A look at the “star-making” season for Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. (The Hockey News)

Donald Duck, Goofy and hockey. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

From the ECHL team who brought you those “Seinfeld”-inspired “puffy shirt” jerseys, the Bakersfield Condors present a “Lord of the Rings” jersey. It’s … a lot to take in.

(Technically one might say it’s also inspired by the “Hobbit” trilogy.)





Read more about the promotion here.

Watch Nationals Park transform in preparation for the 2015 Winter Classic:

Want a little more video this morning? Check out this interesting bit on the maturation of Gabriel Landeskog:

Gaudreau’s first hat trick helps Flames stun Kings

Johnny Gaudreau

It started off as one of those typical “phone it in” type games, but for all their flaws, it’s probably foolish to label Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames as quitters.

They were down 3-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. After tonight, the Flames are off until Saturday.

A less spirited team may have slumped its shoulders and taken its ninth loss in a row.

Gaudreau instead lit a fire in his team and sparked a resounding 4-3 OT comeback win instead.

The spritely 21-year-old generated the first hat trick of his career, and he did it in “natural” fashion in erasing a 3-0 deficit to a 3-3 tie. He nearly iced it in overtime, too, but Mark Giordano instead did the trick with less than a minute left in extra time.

Take a look at Gaudreau’s hat trick in the videos below.

If there’s one lesson from “The Gaudreau Show,” it’s that you might not want to turn it off before it’s over.