Loui Eriksson, Sweden Stay Undefeated
BostonBruins.com - All of the Bruins' Olympic squads who played on Friday in Sochi took home victories, with Loui Eriksson helping Sweden to a 1-0 win over Switzerland.
The victory kept Sweden undefeated after they kicked off the Olympics with a 4-2 win against the Czech Republic.
Eriksson finished the game with 21:10 in ice time, second most among forwards, upped from the 18:37 he played in the opener. He remained on the right wing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Daniel Sedin.
Once again, he led all Sweden skaters with the most ice-time in the third period (8:02). Like on the Bruins, Eriksson is utilized in all situations, manning the net-front spot on the power play and serving as a go-to penalty killer. When they need to preserve a lead, as in their first two games in Sochi, Eriksson is on the ice.
He didn't end up on the scoresheet - with Daniel Alfredsson the lone player to break through in the third period, jutting home a rebound off defenseman Erik Karlsson's drive - but Eriksson certainly made his presence felt, especially around the blue paint. He played with confidence, and nearly had about five or six good tip-in opportunities from claiming his real estate in front of the goal.
In the third period of a scoreless game, a speeding Eriksson was nearly sprung at the blueline for the kind of chance that would have showcased his moves around the defender closing in.
A minute and a half later, Alfredsson found the back of the net for the eventual 1-0 win.
Sweden initially had difficulty gaining the offensive blueline, even with an offensively-minded back end led by Karlsson that likes to jump into the play.
They then began to pick apart the Swiss defense, especially by penetrating the right side, evidenced by how Alfredsson's goal developed. Most opportunities were created with net-front presence and trying to get to the dirty areas, getting rebounds and tips.
"They play an intense, high-tempo, smart game," Lundqvist told IIHF.com following the win. The netminder was the star of the game, making 26 saves for the shutout. "In the second and third period we played really strong, and we controlled the play a lot more. It was a huge win for us."
Eriksson may not be considered Sweden's most talented player offensively, but especially without the likes of Henrik Zetterberg (injured in Sochi), Johan Franzen and Henrik Sedin (sidelined by injuries prior to Sochi) in the lineup, you can tell his versatility is relied on by the coaching staff.
For the winger, this type of experience and upped minutes on the international stage couldn't come at a better time.
Eriksson was playing a third line role with Black & Gold in the lead-up to the Olympic Break, as he was easing his way back into the lineup following his second concussion of the season. Banged up and seemingly not able to catch a break, it wouldn't be surprising to see a more confident winger upon his return.
"I’ve been through a lot the last couple months here," Eriksson had said prior to heading to Sochi. "So I am looking forward to going to the Olympics and then coming back here [to Boston] and start playing well and being healthy."
Sweden next faces Latvia on Saturday, February 15 (noon ET, live on USA Network) in its final preliminary game. They have already claimed the top spot in Group C, with the winner of Czech Republic-Switzerland on Saturday determining the second place team in the group.