Loui Eriksson Not in Lineup vs Panthers; Chad Johnson Expected in Goal
BOSTON, MA - Bruins winger Loui Eriksson was not on the ice for the team's pregame skate on Tuesday morning at TD Garden before facing the Florida Panthers.
"Loui was in the back room, he’s got a minor issue that we’ll keep him out tonight, but he’ll be back Thursday," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
Regardless of what is keeping Eriksson out from Tuesday night's game, the good news is that, as Julien said, he will be back ready to go on Thursday.
"He's starting to showcase the type of player that we knew we were getting - he’s making smart plays," said Julien. "You just have to look at that shorthanded goal of Soupy’s [Gregory Campbell]. You know, he’s patient enough, he made a great pass."
"He’s been a great penalty killer for us and watching in Sweden, he was also a great power play player for them, he played on their first [unit]. He’s just starting to come around right now and everything about his game is there and probably more than anything else, his hockey sense, vision, it’s pretty impressive."
Jordan Caron Filling In
With Eriksson out of the lineup, Jordan Caron will slot in alongside Kelly and Soderberg. It will mark Caron's first game since January 27, after not suiting up in the Bruins' past nine games.
Just as any "13th forward," though, Caron has been putting in the work, and will look to continue the line's success.
"I’m not going to focus totally on Jordan because he is coming in after being out for a while, but he’s worked hard, his speed in practices and everything else is the same as everybody else," said Julien.
"He’s going to go out there, he’s going to compete hard, and he’s just going to do what he does normally and that’s just be strong against the walls, be dependable and go out there and play that kind of game."
"So to me, my focus isn’t more on Jordan than it is the rest of the team. He’s coming in and I don’t think we’re expecting him to be a savior but just to be a good player for us would be a bonus."
"He’s going to play with Soderberg and Kelly, and he’s going to hopefully try and keep that line going in the right direction."
Kelly, Soderberg and Eriksson had put up two goals and three assists in the three games out of the break, with a goal and two assists coming in the Bruins' 6-3 bounce-back win over the Rangers on Sunday in New York.
Bruins Focus on Team Defense, in Prepping for Comeback Cats
The Bruins are 1-1-1 out of the break, first allowing Buffalo five goals, and then Washington four goals, before cutting that down to three goals against in the win over the Rangers.
Eliminating defensive lapses remains a strong point of emphasis, though, especially for a team that has allowed the second fewest goals in the league with 137 (LA has allowed 134).
"You can always get better defensively and that's a staple of our team, so for us, it's important that to come out every night and we give a better effort than we did the previous night," said blueliner Torey Krug. "And until there's a zero on the scoreboard for the other team, we won't be happy."
Every team presents a different challenge, and the Florida Panthers - though currently seventh in the Atlantic Division and out of the playoff picture - are coming off a comeback win over the Islanders in which they put up four straight goals in the third period.
The Bruins must not relent, especially as a win on Tuesday night could put them closer to the top of the Eastern Conference.
"It’s one of those teams that comes and competes hard every night and we have to take that seriously, we have an opportunity here with a little bit of luck to pull within one point from the top of the conference depending on what Pittsburgh does tonight," said Julien.
"There are a lot of reasons for us to win these games. But these are games you have to win and these are games that if you don’t take them seriously and you’re not ready, you get surprised and you get disappointed."
Johnson vs. Thomas Expected in Goal
Johnson and the Bruins fell in their first game back after the break in Buffalo last Wednesday, but prior to that, the netminder had won his previous five starts. He has an 11-3-1 record this season, with a 2.30 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
Thomas has started two out of the last three games for Florida, including their 5-3 comeback win over the New York Islanders on Sunday that snapped a four-game losing streak. The former Bruin owns a 16-19-3 record, with a 2.87 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.