Tag: Loui Eriksson

Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins

Video: Bruins’ Kelly scores winner, still trying to understand Swedish linemates


Chris Kelly underwent off-season back surgery. Back in the Boston Bruins lineup, he scored the winning goal in a season-opening win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

Kelly, who scored only nine times in 57 regular season games for Boston last season, broke the deadlock with 1:51 remaining in the third period to give the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Flyers.

It’s early in the season, and line combinations can change in an instant through an 82-game schedule. But Kelly clearly enjoyed his time on a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson – even if there is a bit of a language barrier.

“I like playing with the Swedes even though half the time I don’t understand them on the bench,” he said after the win, as per Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston.

“I was just excited, like it was my first year again,” Kelly added.

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Bruins open season with plenty to prove

Steve Mason

NBCSN will begin its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

For the Flyers and Bruins, the wait will finally end tonight. After being eliminated in seven games by the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens respectively, both teams are looking to do more despite being prevented from making major upgrades due to the salary cap.

In fact, an argument could be made that Boston and Philadelphia both took a step back over the summer. The Bruins watched 30-goal scorer Jarome Iginla walk away as an unrestricted free agent and recently dealt top-four defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the interest of freeing cap space. On top of that, their points leader in 2013-14, David Krejci, will start the campaign on the injured reserve list due to an undisclosed problem.

That’s a huge gap in their offense compared to 2013-14, but the Bruins are hoping Loui Eriksson can help fill the void. His first season with the Bruins was derailed due to multiple concussions, but after having the summer to regroup, he’ll get a chance to put his past struggles behind him.

At least Krejci might not be out for long; the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been so fortunate with their players. They have no idea when defenseman Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) will be back or if he will return at all. That’s problematic because while the Bruins have a young core that’s capable of filling the void left by Boychuk, Philadelphia’s defense was a significant question mark even before Timonen’s injury.

“You don’t replace Timonen, a very good defenseman, intelligent,” coach Craig Berube told CSN Philly. “But as a group, they can replace him. Or try to, to a certain extent. They’ve got to all step up and play good. I think our D core, all seven of them that are here (Nick Schultz is the team’s current seventh defenseman), are very capable of getting the job done.”

Michael Del Zotto might help in that regard. He started the 2013-14 campaign as a projected top-four defenseman with the New York Rangers, but fell from grace to the point where the Rangers sent him to Nashville, which didn’t even retain his rights as a restricted free agent. The 24-year-old had to wait until August before he signed with Philadelphia and who knows what his situation would be if Timonen was healthy.

He’s going into this season with a lot to prove, which sums up these two teams nicely. Both would like to demonstrate that they’re as strong as ever despite their summer setbacks. They both want to assert themselves as serious contenders for the Stanley Cup and that battle starts tonight.

Risk Factors: Boston Bruins edition

Zdeno Chara

From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Boston Bruins

1. Zdeno Chara…he’s not so young anymore. In fact, only 12 defensemen were older than the 37-year-old last season, and not one of them came close to averaging the 24:39 of ice time the big Bruin did.

To be sure, nobody’s suggesting that Chara has become an average defender. Team president Cam Neely went so far in May to say, “Zdeno is still, in my opinion, the best defender in the game.”

But even Chara recognizes he has to work to keep up with today’s young speedsters — this after his performance in last season’s playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens drew criticism. (Wrote the Boston Globe after Game 7: “When Chara was on the ice in the first, he looked a little shaky, stumbling around uncharacteristically during one penalty kill shift. He was thrown off balance and so were the Black and Gold.”)

No wonder GM Peter Chiarelli was loath to trade veteran blue-liner Johnny Boychuk, choosing instead to give RFAs Torey Krug and Reilly Smith the hard sell on taking less for the good of the team. Trading Boychuk would mean even more minutes for youngsters Krug and Dougie Hamilton, and nobody can be sure how that would turn out. Those two need to show improvement regardless.

To deny that any decline in Chara’s abilities would negatively impact the Bruins’ chances at winning the Stanely Cup would be to deny his importance to the team.

And to deny that age negatively impacts a player’s abilities would be to deny reality.

2. Who replaces Jarome Iginla on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic? We only ask because Iginla scored 30 goals last season. And that’s a lot of goals to replace.

Iginla, of course, was brought in last summer to replace Nathan Horton, who’d left for Columbus. But nobody’s been brought in to replace Iginla, who left for Colorado. So the Bruins are stuck hoping for more from a player that came to them in the Tyler Seguin trade — one who didn’t show all that much in his first year with the club.

“We lost Jarome, but I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year,” coach Claude Julien told NHL.com. “I think we started seeing that at the end of the year and he could be a replacement for Jarome.”

Eriksson has proven he can score goals in the NHL. He had 36 of them for Dallas in 2008-09; four times he’s scored 26 or more in a season. And he’s eager to prove he can still do it.

“I think I can bring a little more,” said Eriksson.

Except he’ll need to bring a little more than “a little more” if he hopes to replace Iginla’s 30 goals. Twenty goals more, to be exact.

3. The new-look bottom six…what if it doesn’t look so good?

When Boston defeated Vancouver in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins didn’t have a single forward that played fewer than 11 minutes.

“From personal experience,” said former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, “I know when we lost the Cup to Boston, Boston was a four-line team. Probably the best fourth line, I felt, in the league.”

It’s not clear if the Bruins will still be able to roll four lines so successfully in 2014-15. They certainly didn’t in the Game 7 loss to Montreal, when Shawn Thornton played just 3:28 and three other forwards — Matt Fraser, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille — each failed to break the 11-minute mark.

Two different games and two different scenarios, sure. But Boston’s bottom six still stands to be quite different this season. The popular Thornton is gone. Eriksson, as mentioned, may move up from the third line to the top line. There are open spots available for the taking.

“The competition, with it comes uncertainty and we’d all like things to be certain, but also the cream will rise to the top and I’m looking forward to it,” Chiarelli said.

“We’ve got some invites, we’ve got some young players pushing, I look forward to it.”

In deciding to let Thornton go, Chiarelli hinted that he wanted a faster and more skilled fourth line. That seemed to bode well for a player like Ryan Spooner, who’s scored at a point-per-game pace in the AHL. However, he’ll have to be reliable defensively if he wants ice time from Julien.

“You can give us some great opportunities up front and score goals,” Julien said recently, in remarks that were believed to be directed at Spooner. “But if you give up more chances against than you create then you’re not helping the team. In the long run, you don’t win championships that way.”

A championship remains the goal for the Bruins.

“I still think we’re in our window,” Neely said.

But the mere fact he had to say it, well — considering all of the above — isn’t that reason to wonder if they really are?

Krug, Smith sign with Bruins

Torey Krug

You can scratch two more names off the restricted free agents list.

The Boston Bruins announced new one-year deals for defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith Monday.

According to the release, the deals are identical carrying a cap hit of $1.4 million.

With the signings, the Bruins now have $418,000 of cap space remaining per The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin. This of course includes the relief they get from Marc Savard remaining on long term injured reserve.

Krug, 23, actually ends up taking a pay cut in the deal as he made roughly $1.75 million last season according to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty.  TSN’s Aaron Ward reports Krug’s deal is worth $900,000 with a $100,000 signing bonus.

Krug had 14 goals and 40 points in 79 games during his rookie season with the Bruins in 2013-14. He became just the fifth rookie in franchise history to score 10 or more goals in his first season.

In his first full season with the Bruins, Smith who earned $2.7 million over three years on his entry-level deal, scored 20 goals and 51 points in 82 games in 2013-14.  The Bruins acquired Smith in July 2013 from the Dallas along with Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow in the deal which saw Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button go to the Stars.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is going to be a busy man next summer. In addition to Smith, Krug and Fraser, Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Niklas Svedberg will become restricted free agents following the 2014-15 season.

That’s on top of Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Carl Soderberg, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille becoming unrestricted free agents.

Smith and Krug coupled with Jaden Schwartz leaving money on the table in St. Louis  certainly can’t help the case of Columbus Blue Jackets’ holdout Ryan Johansen.

Nashville also inked restricted free agent defenseman Ryan Ellis on Thursday.

Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin of the Dallas Stars along with Johansen are also among the notable restricted free agents still awaiting new deals.

B’s Lucic admits his wrist isn’t fully healed

Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three

Some might argue that the Boston Bruins took a half-step (or more) backward this offseason due to salary cap challenges, but the team still looks formidable on paper. They might not be able to pencil Milan Lucic in at full force to start the season, though.

The hulking forward admitted to CSNNE.com that his surgically repaired left wrist isn’t quite back to 100 percent just yet.

“I feel like I’ve turned the corner in the last week or week-and-a-half, so that’s a positive. But I’m still working to get it up to 100 percent,” Lucic said. “I’m just excited to be back with everyone, and to get things going. You don’t want to do anything to have any setbacks, so you have to be smart about it. It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.”

The 26-year-old wore a hard cast that extended from his elbow to his hand for most of this summer, greatly limiting his ability to work out his upper-body this summer, as he told CSNNE.com. While he has time to build back up – again, he seems positive about the last couple weeks of progress – there’s at least some concern that he’ll take awhile to rebound to his usual intimidating form.

(Don’t expect him to resemble a “string bean” anytime soon, though.)

Should Lucic shoot more often once he’s healthy?

Lucic spoke about the “mental part to get over when it comes to shooting, and everything else on the ice” as well, which brings up an interesting point: the B’s might want to ask Lucic to fire the puck more often, at least long-term.

The big winger only fired 153 shots on goal last season, meaning he averaged fewer than two shots on net per game. His career average (811 in 485 regular season contests), is well off the two-per-game mark, too.

Considering his power, ability to fight through checks and impressive accuracy (his career shooting percentage is an outstanding 14.9), Boston might want to start whispering in his ear to maybe be just a touch less selective.

That might come naturally, though. After skating alongside obvious finishers in Jarome Iginla and Nathan Horton, David Krejci seemed excited by the prospect of Loui Eriksson bumping up his goal totals, so one can only imagine what kind of impact that might have on Lucic’s approach. Again, it may be wise to push for higher shot volumes when he feels comfortable, though.

This is not to say that Lucic should just fire the puck away without any thought regarding context, but more shots from that talented forward seems like it could only be a good thing.